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Prejudice and Wages: An Empirical Assessment of Becker's The Economics of Discrimination

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  • Kerwin Kofi Charles
  • Jonathan Guryan

Abstract

We test the predictions from Becker's (1957) seminal work on employer prejudice and find that relative black wages (a) vary negatively with the prejudice of the "marginal" white in a state, (b) vary negatively with the prejudice in the lower tail of the prejudice distribution but are unaffected by the prejudice of the most prejudiced persons in a state, and (c) vary negatively with the fraction of a state that is black. Our estimates suggest that one-quarter of the racial wage gap is due to prejudice, with nontrivial consequences for black lifetime earnings. (c) 2008 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

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  • Kerwin Kofi Charles & Jonathan Guryan, 2008. "Prejudice and Wages: An Empirical Assessment of Becker's The Economics of Discrimination," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(5), pages 773-809, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:116:y:2008:i:5:p:773-809
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    1. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1992. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 1-40, February.
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