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The Organizational Demography of Racial Employment Segregation




This article examines how workers respond to changes in the racial composition of their workplaces. An analysis of the job histories of new hires into multiple workgroups within a single firm reveals path dependence in the effects of group composition on turnover. Exit rates are inversely related to the level of same-race representation at the time of organizational entry, and increase when workers experience declines in representation. However, turnover rates do not decline in response to increases in representation. The challenge of workplace racial integration therefore lies not simply in eliminating discrimination in hiring, but also in managing the post-hire dynamics of changes in group composition. Implications of the asymmetric effects of compositional change for the literature on organizational demography are also discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Sorensen, Jesper, 2003. "The Organizational Demography of Racial Employment Segregation," Working papers 4300-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:mit:sloanp:3503

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-1061.
    2. Carrington, William J & Troske, Kenneth R, 1998. "Interfirm Segregation and the Black/White Wage Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 231-260, April.
    3. W. Clark, 1991. "Residential preferences and neighborhood racial segregation: A test of the schelling segregation model," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 28(1), pages 1-19, February.
    4. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-1348, December.
    5. Kimberly Bayard & Judith Hellerstein & David Neumark & Kenneth R. Troske, 1999. "Why Are Racial And Ethnic Wage Gaps Larger For Men Than For Women? Exploring The Role Of Segregation Using The New Worker-Establishment Characteristics Database," Labor and Demography 9902002, EconWPA.
    6. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-493, May.
    7. Ted Mouw, 2002. "Are black workers missing the connection? The effect of spatial distance and employee referrals on interfirm racial segregation," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 39(3), pages 507-528, August.
    8. Harry J. Holzer, 1991. "The Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis: What Has the Evidence Shown?," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 28(1), pages 105-122, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Shirley H. Liu & Frank Heiland, 2012. "Should We Get Married? The Effect Of Parents' Marriage On Out‐Of‐Wedlock Children," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(1), pages 17-38, January.

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    Racial Employment Segregation; Integration;


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