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A Theory of Discrimination Based on Signaling and Strategic Information Acquisition

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  • Ajit Mishra

    (University of Dundee)

Abstract

The paper develops a `signaling' based theory of discrimination where workers face different incentives for skill acquisition purely because of their group membership. Workers belonging to the disadvantaged group bear substantial signaling cost. The difference in signaling costs between groups is not due to any unexplained group heterogeneity but discriminatory information policy of the employer. Based on its belief about the group, an employer may not acquire relevant information about the workers of this group, even if such information were costless. It is shown that affirmative action policies can help in the presence of non-convex signaling technology. Factors like co-ordination amongst workers, presence of a 'dynamic' labor market and sub-group formation seem to affect the nature and degree of discrimination.

Suggested Citation

  • Ajit Mishra, 2000. "A Theory of Discrimination Based on Signaling and Strategic Information Acquisition," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0675, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:0675
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Milgrom, Paul R, 1988. "Employment Contracts, Influence Activities, and Efficient Organization Design," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 42-60, February.
    2. Shelly J. Lundberg, 1991. "The Enforcement of Equal Opportunity Laws Under Imperfect Information: Affirmative Action and Alternatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(1), pages 309-326.
    3. George A. Akerlof, 1997. "Social Distance and Social Decisions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1005-1028, September.
    4. Paul Milgrom & Sharon Oster, 1987. "Job Discrimination, Market Forces, and the Invisibility Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(3), pages 453-476.
    5. 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.
    6. Jacques Crémer, 1995. "Arm's Length Relationships," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(2), pages 275-295.
    7. Benoit, Jean-Pierre, 1999. "Color Blind Is Not Color Neutral: Testing Differences and Affirmative Action," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 378-400, July.
    8. Cho, In-Koo & Sobel, Joel, 1990. "Strategic stability and uniqueness in signaling games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 381-413, April.
    9. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn C, 1993. "Will Affirmative-Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1220-1240, December.
    10. 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.
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