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Can Workers' Expectations Account for the Persistence of Discrimination?

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  • Filippin, Antonio

    () (University of Milan)

Abstract

The paper explains how workers' expectations of being discriminated against can be self-confirming, accounting for the persistence of unequal outcomes in the labour market even beyond the causes that originally generated them. The theoretical framework used is a two-stage game of incomplete information in which one employer promotes only one among two workers after having observed their productivity, which is used as a signal of their ability. Workers who expect to be discriminated against exert a lower effort on average, because of a lower expected return, thereby being promoted less frequently even by unbiased employers. This implies that achievements of minority groups may not improve when the fraction of discriminatory employers actually decreases, and such a mechanism is robust both to trial work periods and to affirmative actions like quotas.

Suggested Citation

  • Filippin, Antonio, 2009. "Can Workers' Expectations Account for the Persistence of Discrimination?," IZA Discussion Papers 4490, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4490
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrew Schotter & Keith Weigelt, 1992. "Asymmetric Tournaments, Equal Opportunity Laws, and Affirmative Action: Some Experimental Results," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 511-539.
    2. Dan Kovenock & Michael R. Baye & Casper G. de Vries, 1996. "The all-pay auction with complete information (*)," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 8(2), pages 291-305.
    3. John C. Harsanyi, 1967. "Games with Incomplete Information Played by "Bayesian" Players, I-III Part I. The Basic Model," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 14(3), pages 159-182, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Baert, Stijn & Cockx, Bart, 2013. "Pure ethnic gaps in educational attainment and school to work transitions: When do they arise?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 276-294.
    2. Antonio FILIPPIN & Francesco GUALA, 2011. "Costless discrimination and unequal achievements in a labour market experiment," Departmental Working Papers 2011-30, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    3. Stijn Baert & Frank W. Heiland & Sanders Korenman, 2016. "Native-Immigrant Gaps in Educational and School-to-Work Transitions in the 2nd Generation: The Role of Gender and Ethnicity," De Economist, Springer, vol. 164(2), pages 159-186, June.
    4. Vincent Corluy & Gerlinde Verbist, 2014. "Can education bridge the gap? Education and the employment position of immigrants in Belgium," ImPRovE Working Papers 14/02, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    discrimination; workers’ expectations; self-confirming beliefs;

    JEL classification:

    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • C79 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Other

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