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The Case for Discrimination


  • Alon Harel

    (Hebrew University)

  • Uzi Segal

    () (Boston College)


This paper defends the use of asymmetric norms which grant gre- ater privileges to minorities than to majorities. The norms we discuss include norms facilitating the establishment or prohibition of minority- only or majority-only institutions, neighborhoods, or associations. While traditionally the primary arguments favoring minorities’ privileges have been based on considerations of fairness or justice, we show that there are simple environments where asymmetric norms would maximize aggregate sum of individual utilities. A utilitarian may therefore support the establishment of black colleges or Hassidic only neighborhoods while at the same time oppose exclusion of blacks or Jews from white or Christian neighborhoods.

Suggested Citation

  • Alon Harel & Uzi Segal, 2011. "The Case for Discrimination," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 768, Boston College Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:768

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    Utilitarianism; housing discrimination; minority rights;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination


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