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The Stability of the American Business Elite

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  • Peter Temin

Abstract

This paper begins the task of explaining why the American business elite has remained white, male and mostly native-born Protestants for a century, as verified in a previous paper (Temin, 1997). I argue that the evidence is inconsistent with the hypotheses that the stability is due to discrimination on the job or to principal-agent factors. The most likely explanation is that this demographic group makes the best business managers. I suggest that this in turn is not because they are inherently superior, but because they have had access to superior education, a result of past discrimination.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Temin, 1998. "The Stability of the American Business Elite," NBER Historical Working Papers 0110, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0110 Note: DAE
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    1. Charles T. Clotfelter & Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Malcolm Getz & John J. Siegfried, 1991. "Economic Challenges in Higher Education," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot91-1.
    2. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 1333-1381.
    3. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    4. Clotfelter, Charles T. & Ehrenberg, Ronald G. & Getz, Malcolm & Siegfried, John J., 1992. "Economic Challenges in Higher Education," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226110509.
    5. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-895, October.
    6. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
    7. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
    8. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-950, October.
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