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Class discrimination and meritocracy in the labor market: evidence from Chile


  • Javier Núnez
  • Roberto Gutiérrez



This paper studies class discrimination and meritocracy in the Chilean labor market. Employing a dataset rich in productivity and class measures, we find that upper-class professionals earn approximately 50 per cent more than those raised in lower socioeconomic backgrounds. This gap is unrelated to differences in academic performance at university, second language proficiency, postgraduate studies, schools’ academic quality, geographic origin and other standard controls, which suggests some employer discrimination. This gap is larger than gaps reported elsewhere for gender, race and physical appearance. Meritocracy is modest, as the effect of socioeconomic background on earnings outweighs that of academic performance at university.

Suggested Citation

  • Javier Núnez & Roberto Gutiérrez, 2004. "Class discrimination and meritocracy in the labor market: evidence from Chile," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 31(2 Year 20), pages 113-132, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:udc:esteco:v:31:y:2004:i:2:p:113-132

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    Cited by:

    1. Villegas, Horacio & Núñez, Javier, 2005. "Discriminación Étnica en Bolivia: Examinando Diferencias Regionales y por Nicho de Calificación," Documentos de trabajo 1/2005, Instituto de Investigaciones Socio-Económicas (IISEC), Universidad Católica Boliviana.
    2. Carlos Gustavo Machicado & Lourdes Espinoza & Katia Makhlouf, 2009. "La Enseñanza de Economía en Bolivia y Chile," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 2176, Inter-American Development Bank.
    3. Javier Núñez & Andrea Tartakowsky, 2007. "Inequality of outcomes vs. inequality of opportunities in a developing country. An exploratory analysis for Chile," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 34(2 Year 20), pages 185-202, December.
    4. Óscar Landerretche & Nicolás Lillo, 2011. "Percepciones sobre Movilidad Social y Meritocracia: Un Estudio para Chile Usando la Encuesta de Trabajo y Equidad," Working Papers wp331, University of Chile, Department of Economics.
    5. Andersen, Lykke Eg & Mercado, Alejandro F. & Muriel H., Beatriz, 2003. "Discriminación Étnica en Bolivia: En el Sistema Educativo y el Mercado de Trabajo," Documentos de trabajo 3/2003, Instituto de Investigaciones Socio-Económicas (IISEC), Universidad Católica Boliviana.

    More about this item


    Chile; Latin America; Discrimination; Meritocracy; Class; Earnings Differentials.;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General


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