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The Stability of the American Business Elite

  • Peter Temin

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/h0110.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Historical Working Papers with number 0110.

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Date of creation: Dec 1998
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Industrial and Corporate Change, Vol. 8 (June 1999): 189-210.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0110
Note: DAE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. 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 912-50, October.
  2. 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, December.
  3. Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
  4. 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 869-95, October.
  5. Ronald Oaxaca, 1971. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," Working Papers 396, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. 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, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
  7. 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.
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