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Competition and Gender Prejudice: Are Discriminatory Employers Doomed to Fail?

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  • Andrea Weber
  • Christine Zulehner

Abstract

According to Becker's (1957) famous theory on discrimination, entrepreneurs with a strong prejudice against female workers forgo profits by submitting to their tastes. In a com- petitive market their firms lack efficiency and are therefore forced to leave. We present new empirical evidence for this prediction by studying the survival of startup firms in a large longitudinal matched employer-employee data set from Austria. Our results show that firms with strong preferences for discrimination, i.e. a low share of female employees relatively to the industry average, have significantly shorter survival rates. This is espe- cially relevant for firms starting out with female shares in the lower tail of the distribution. They exit about 18 months earlier than firms with a median share of females. We see no differences in survival between firms at the top of the female share distribution and at the median, though. We further document that highly discriminatory firms that manage to survive submit to market powers and increase their female workforce over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Weber & Christine Zulehner, 2009. "Competition and Gender Prejudice: Are Discriminatory Employers Doomed to Fail?," NRN working papers 2009-26, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  • Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2009_26
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Firm survival; profitability; female employment; discrimination; market test; matched employer-employee data;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

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