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Culture, Information, and Screening Discrimination

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  • Cornell, Bradford
  • Welch, Ivo

Abstract

The authors show that discrimination can occur even when it is common knowledge that underlying group characteristics do not differ and employers do not prefer same-group candidates. When employers can judge job applicants' unknown qualities better when candidates belong to the same group and hire the best prospect from a large pool of applicants, the top applicant is likely to have the same background as the employer. The model has policy, empirical, and experimental implications. The model predicts that 'screening discrimination' is more likely to occur and persist in sectors in which underlying quality is important but difficult to observe. Copyright 1996 by University of Chicago Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Cornell, Bradford & Welch, Ivo, 1996. "Culture, Information, and Screening Discrimination," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 542-571, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:104:y:1996:i:3:p:542-71
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    2. Kevin Lang, 1986. "A Language Theory of Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 363-382.
    3. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
    4. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-661, September.
    5. Dennis J. Aigner & Glen G. Cain, 1977. "Statistical Theories of Discrimination in Labor Markets," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 30(2), pages 175-187, January.
    6. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-858, December.
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