IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

When Work Disappears: Racial Prejudice and Recession Labour Market Penalties

  • David W. Johnston
  • Grace Lordan

This paper assesses whether racial prejudice and labour market discrimination is counter-cyclical. This may occur if prejudice and discrimination are partly driven by competition over scarce resources, which intensifies during periods of economic downturn. Using British Attitudes Data spanning three decades, we find that prejudice does increase with unemployment rates. We find greater counter-cyclical effects for highly-educated, middle-aged, full-time employed men. For this group, a 1%-point increase in unemployment raises self-reported racial prejudice by 4.1%-points. This result suggests that non-White workers are more likely to encounter racially prejudiced employers and managers in times of higher unemployment. Consistent with the estimated attitude changes, we find using the British Labour Force Survey that racial employment and wage gaps increase with unemployment. The effects for both employment and wages are largest for high-skill Black workers. For example, a 1%-point increase in unemployment increases Black-White employment and wage gaps for the highly educated by 1.3%-points and 2.5%. Together, the attitude and labour market results imply that non-Whites disproportionately suffer during recessions. It follows that recessions exacerbate existing racial inequalities.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1257.

in new window

Date of creation: Feb 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1257
Contact details of provider: Web page:

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.:

as in new window
  1. Arthur H. Goldsmith & Darrick Hamilton & William Darity Jr, 2006. "Shades of Discrimination: Skin Tone and Wages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 242-245, May.
  2. Kenneth Y. Chay, 1998. "The Impact of federal civil rights policy on black economic progress: Evidence from the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(4), pages 608-632, July.
  3. Matthew A. Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2004. "Media, Education and Anti-Americanism in the Muslim World," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 117-133, Summer.
  4. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2013. "On The Theory Of Ethnic Conflict," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11, pages 161-192, 01.
  5. Stéphane Pallage & Christian Zimmermann, 2006. "On voters’ attitudes towards unemployment insurance subsidies across regions: a Canadian simulation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 391-410, June.
  6. Mayda, Anna Maria, 2004. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 1115, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Dustmann, Christian & Preston, Ian, 2000. "Racial and Economic Factors in Attitudes to Immigration," CEPR Discussion Papers 2542, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Dustmann, Christian & Glitz, Albrecht & Vogel, Thorsten, 2009. "Employment, Wages, and the Economic Cycle: Differences between Immigrants and Natives," IZA Discussion Papers 4432, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Armin Falk & Josef Zweimüller, . "Unemployment and Right-Wing Extremist Crime," IEW - Working Papers 235, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  10. Heather Antecol & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark, 2008. "The Effect of Community-Level Socio-Economic Conditions on Threatening Racial Encounters," CEPR Discussion Papers 589, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  11. Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2013. "Married to Intolerance: Attitudes toward Intermarriage in Germany, 1900-2006," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 79-85, May.
  12. Orley Ashenfelter, 1970. "Changes in Labor Market Discrimination Over Time," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 5(4), pages 403-430.
  13. Alan B. Krueger & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1995. "A Statistical Analysis of Crime Against Foreigners in Unified Germany," Working papers 95-15, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  14. P. Frijters, 1997. "Discrimination and job-uncertainty," Labor and Demography 9706001, EconWPA.
  15. Diane Lauderdale, 2006. "Birth outcomes for Arabic-named women in California before and after September 11," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 185-201, February.
  16. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1990. "School Quality and Black/White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," Working Papers 652, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  17. Erling Barth & Bernt Bratsberg & Oddbj¯rn Raaum, 2004. "Identifying Earnings Assimilation of Immigrants under Changing Macroeconomic Conditions," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(1), pages 1-22, 03.
  18. Grace Lordan & David Johnston, 2011. "Discrimination makes me Sick! Establishing a relationship between discrimination and health," Discussion Papers Series 421, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
  19. Biddle, Jeff E. & Hamermesh, Daniel S., 2012. "Wage Discrimination over the Business Cycle," IZA Discussion Papers 6445, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Kenneth F. Scheve & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2001. "Labor Market Competition And Individual Preferences Over Immigration Policy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 133-145, February.
  21. Denise DiPasquale & Edward L. Glaeser, 1998. "Incentives and Social Capital: Are Homeowners Better Citizens?," NBER Working Papers 6363, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Bernt Bratsberg & Erling Barth & Oddbjørn Raaum, 2006. "Local Unemployment and the Relative Wages of Immigrants: Evidence from the Current Population Surveys," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 243-263, May.
  23. John Smith, 2007. "Reputation, Social Identity and Social Conflict," Departmental Working Papers 200709, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  24. Manning, Alan & Petrongolo, Barbara, 2006. "The Part-Time Pay Penalty for Women in Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 2419, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  25. Kevin Lang & Jee-Yeon K. Lehmann, 2012. "Racial Discrimination in the Labor Market: Theory and Empirics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(4), pages 959-1006, December.
  26. Johnston, David W. & Lordan, Grace, 2012. "Discrimination makes me sick! An examination of the discrimination–health relationship," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 99-111.
  27. Bollini, Paola & Siem, Harald, 1995. "No real progress towards equity: Health of migrants and ethnic minorities on the eve of the year 2000," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 819-828, September.
  28. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman, 2013. "On the theory of ethnic conflict," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 50242, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  29. Kevin Lang & Michael Manove & William T. Dickens, 2005. "Racial Discrimination in Labor Markets with Posted Wage Offers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1327-1340, September.
  30. Dawkins, Casey J. & Shen, Qing & Sanchez, Thomas W., 2005. "Race, space, and unemployment duration," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 91-113, July.
  31. Joseph A Ritter & Lowell J Taylor, 2011. "Racial Disparity in Unemployment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 30-42, February.
  32. 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.
  33. Fryer Jr., Roland G. & Torelli, Paul, 2010. "An empirical analysis of 'acting white'," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(5-6), pages 380-396, June.
  34. 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.
  35. Donohue, John J, III & Heckman, James, 1991. "Continuous versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1603-43, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1257. 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: ()

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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.