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State Age Protection Laws and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act

  • Joanna Lahey

Some anti-discrimination laws have the perverse effect of harming the very class they were meant to protect. This paper provides evidence that age discrimination laws belong to this perverse class. Prior to the enforcement of the federal law, state laws had little effect on older workers, suggesting that firms either knew little about these laws or did not see them as a threat. After the enforcement of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in 1979, white male workers over the age of 50 in states with age discrimination laws worked between 1 and 1.5 fewer weeks per year than workers in states without laws. These men are also .3 percentage points more likely to be retired and .2 percentage points less likely to be hired. These findings suggest that in an anti-age discrimination environment, firms seek to avoid litigation through means not intended by the legislation -- by not employing older workers in the first place.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12048.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12048.

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Date of creation: Feb 2006
Publication status: published as Lahey, Joanna. “State Age Protection Laws and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.” Journal of Law and Economics 51, 3 (2008): 433-460.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12048
Note: AG LS
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  1. Adams, Scott J., 2004. "Age discrimination legislation and the employment of older workers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 219-241, April.
  2. Barbara A Butrica & Karen Elizabeth Smith & C. Eugene Steuerle, 2006. "Working for a Good Retirement," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2006-8, Center for Retirement Research, revised May 2006.
  3. David Neumark & Wendy A. Stock, 1999. "Age Discrimination Laws and Labor Market Efficiency," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(5), pages 1081-1110, October.
  4. Burgess, Simon & Lane, Julia & Stevens, David, 2000. "Job Flows, Worker Flows, and Churning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 473-502, July.
  5. Joni Hersch & W. Kip Viscusi, 2004. "Punitive Damages: How Judges and Juries Perform," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 1-36, 01.
  6. Thomas DeLeire, 2000. "The Wage and Employment Effects of the Americans with Disabilities Act," Working Papers 0008, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  7. Gomez-Salvador, Ramon & Messina, Julian & Vallanti, Giovanna, 2004. "Gross job flows and institutions in Europe," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 469-485, August.
  8. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 1998. "Consequences of Employment Protection? The Case of the Americans with Disabilities Act," Working papers 98-13, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Joni Hersch, 2006. "Demand for a Jury Trial and the Selection of Cases for Trial," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 119-142, 01.
  10. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, March.
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