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What is Discrimination? Gender in the American Economic Association

  • Stephen Donald
  • Daniel S. Hamermesh

Measuring market discrimination is extremely difficult except in the increasingly rare case where physical output measures allow direct measurement of productivity. We illustrate this point with evidence on elections to offices of the American Economic Association. Using a new technique to infer the determinants of the chances of observing a particular outcome when there are K choices out of N possibilities, we find that female candidates have a much better than random chance of victory. This advantage can be interpreted either as reverse discrimination or as reflecting voters' beliefs that women are more productive than observationally identical men in this activity. If the former this finding could be explained by the behavior of an unchanging median voter whose gender preferences were not satisfied by the suppliers of candidates for office; but there was a clear structural change in voting behavior in the mid-1970s. The results suggest that it is not generally possible to claim that differences in rewards for different groups measure the extent of discrimination or even its direction.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10684.

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Date of creation: Aug 2004
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Publication status: published as "What Is Discrimination? Gender in the American Economic Association, 1935-2004" Donald, Stephen G.; Hamermesh, Daniel S.; American Economic Review, September 2006, v. 96, iss. 4, pp. 1283-92
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10684
Note: LS
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  1. Goldin, Claudia D, 1991. "The Role of World War II in the Rise of Women's Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 741-56, September.
  2. Alan E. Dillingham & Marianne A. Ferber & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1994. "Gender Discrimination by Gender: Voting in a Professional Society," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(4), pages 622-633, July.
  3. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2000. "Gender Differences in Pay," NBER Working Papers 7732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. David E. Bloom & Christopher L. Cavanagh, 1986. "An Analysis of the Selection of Arbitrators," NBER Working Papers 1938, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Alan E. Dillingham & Daniel Hamermesh & Marianne Ferber, 1994. "Gender discrimination by gender: Voting in a professional society," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(4), pages 622-633, July.
  6. Lawrence M. Kahn, 1991. "Discrimination in professional sports: A survey of the literature," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 44(3), pages 395-418, April.
  7. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Peter Schmidt, 2003. "The Determinants of Econometric Society Fellows Elections," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 399-407, January.
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