Statistical Discrimination in Labor Markets: An Experimental Analysis
Statistical discrimination occurs when distinctions between demographic groups are made on the basis of real or imagined statistical distinctions between the groups. While such discrimination is legal in some cases (e.g., insurance markets), it is illegal and/or controversial in others (e.g., racial profiling and gender-based labor market discrimination). First moment statistical discrimination occurs when, for example, female workers are offered lower wages because females are perceived to be less productive, on average, than male workers. Second moment discrimination occurs when risk averse employers offer female workers lower wages based not on lower average productivity but on a higher variance in their productivity. Empirical work on statistical discrimination is hampered by the difficulty of obtaining suitable data from naturally-occurring labor markets. This article reports results from controlled laboratory experiments designed to study second moment statistical discrimination in a simulated labor marker setting. Since decision-makers may not view risk in the same way as economists or statisticians (i.e., risk=variance of distribution), we also examine two possible alternative measures of risk: the support of the distribution, and the probability of earning less than the expected (maximum) profits for the employer. Our results indicate that individuals do respond to these alternative measures of risk, and employers made statistically discriminatory wage offers consistent with loss-aversion in our full sample (though differences between male and female employers can be noted). If one can transfer these results outside of the laboratory, they indicate that labor market discrimination based only on first moment discrimination is biased downward. The public policy implication is that efforts and legislation aimed at reducing discrimination of various sorts face an additional challenge in trying to identify and limit relatively hidden, but significant, forms of statistical discrimination.
|Date of creation:||2005|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Thelma C. Raley Hall, Boone, North Carolina 28608|
Web page: http://economics.appstate.edu/
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Davis, Douglas D., 1987. "Maximal quality selection and discrimination in employment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 97-112, March.
- David Dickinson & Ronald Oaxaca, 2005. "The Equivalence of Panel Data Estimators under Orthogonal Experimental Design," Working Papers 05-07, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
- Chaim Fershtman & Uri Gneezy, 2001. "Discrimination in a Segmented Society: An Experimental Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 351-377.
- David W. Harless & George E. Hoffer, 2002. "Do Women Pay More for New Vehicles? Evidence from Transaction Price Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 270-279, March.
- Lundberg, Shelly J & Startz, Richard, 1983.
"Private Discrimination and Social Intervention in Competitive Labor Markets,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 340-347, June.
- Richard Startz & Lundberg, "undated". "Private Discrimination and Social Intervention in Competitive Labor Markets," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 19-81, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
- Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101.
- Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," NBER Working Papers 11474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete too Much?," Discussion Papers 04-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
- Kevin Lang, 1986. "A Language Theory of Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 363-382.
- John A. List, 2004. "The Nature and Extent of Discrimination in the Marketplace: Evidence from the Field," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 49-89.
- John List, 2004. "The nature and extent of discrimination in the marketplace: Evidence from the field," Natural Field Experiments 00299, The Field Experiments Website.
- Ayres, Ian & Siegelman, Peter, 1995. "Race and Gender Discrimination in Bargaining for a New Car," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 304-321, June.
- Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1996. "Dealer Price Discrimination in New Car Purchases: Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 622-654, June.
- Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-955, December.
- 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.
- Curley, Shawn P. & Yates, J. Frank, 1985. "The center and range of the probability interval as factors affecting ambiguity preferences," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 273-287, October.
- Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
- Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
- Helen F. Ladd, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Mortgage Lending," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 41-62, Spring.
- 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.
- Kenneth J. Arrow, 1998. "What Has Economics to Say about Racial Discrimination?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 91-100, Spring.
- Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 2001. "Employer Learning and Statistical Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 313-350.
- Glenn C. Loury, 1998. "Discrimination in the Post-Civil Rights Era: Beyond Market Interactions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 117-126, Spring.
- Vernon L. Smith, 1965. "Experimental Auction Markets and the Walrasian Hypothesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 387-387. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:05-11. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (O. Ashton Morgan)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.