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Studying Discrimination: Fundamental Challenges and Recent Progress

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  • Kerwin Kofi Charles
  • Jonathan Guryan

Abstract

We discuss research on discrimination against blacks and other racial minorities in labor market outcomes, highlighting fundamental challenges faced by empirical work in this area. Specifically, for work devoted to measuring whether and how much discrimination exists, we discuss how the absence of relevant data, the potential noncomparability of blacks and whites, and various conceptual concerns peculiar to race may frustrate or render impossible the application of empirical methods used in other areas of study. For work seeking to arbitrate empirically between the two main alternative theoretical explanations for such discrimination as it exists, we distinguish between indirect analyses, which do not directly study the variation in prejudice or the variation in information, the mechanisms at the heart of the two types of models we review, and direct analyses, which are more recent and much less common. We highlight problems with both approaches. Throughout, we discuss recent work, which, the various challenges notwithstanding, permits tentative conclusions about discrimination. We conclude by pointing to areas that might be fruitful avenues for future investigation.

Suggested Citation

  • Kerwin Kofi Charles & Jonathan Guryan, 2011. "Studying Discrimination: Fundamental Challenges and Recent Progress," NBER Working Papers 17156, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17156 Note: LS
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zheng Fang & Chris Sakellariou, 2013. "Discrimination in the Equilibrium Search Model with Wage-Tenure Contracts," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, pages 451-480.
    2. Castillo, Marco & Petrie, Ragan & Torero, Maximo & Vesterlund, Lise, 2013. "Gender differences in bargaining outcomes: A field experiment on discrimination," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 35-48.
    3. Abigail Wozniak, 2015. "Discrimination and the Effects of Drug Testing on Black Employment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(3), pages 548-566, July.
    4. Anthony Edo & Nicolas Jacquemet & Constantine Yannelis, 2013. "Language Skills and Homophilous Hiring Discrimination: Evidence from Gender-and Racially-Differentiated Applications," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00877458, HAL.
    5. Deschamps, Pierre & De Sousa, Jose, 2014. "Labor Mobility and Racial Discrimination," MPRA Paper 60572, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Daniel Borowczyk-Martins & Jake Bradley & Linas Tarasonis, 2014. "Racial Discrimination in the U.S. Labor Market: Employment and Wage Differentials by Skill," AMSE Working Papers 1413, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised Apr 2014.
    7. Patrick Bayer & Marcus D. Casey & Fernando Ferreira & Robert McMillan, 2012. "Estimating Racial Price Differentials in the Housing Market," NBER Working Papers 18069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Devah Pager & Jörg L. Spenkuch, 2013. "Racial Disparities in Job Finding and Offered Wages," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(3), pages 633-689.
    9. David Card & Ana Rute Cardoso & Joerg Heining & Patrick Kline, 2018. "Firms and Labor Market Inequality: Evidence and Some Theory," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(S1), pages 13-70.
    10. Romain Aeberhardt & Élise Coudin & Roland Rathelot, 2017. "The heterogeneity of ethnic employment gaps," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(1), pages 307-337, January.
    11. Verónica C. Frisancho Robles & Kala Krishna, 2012. "Affirmative Action in Higher Education in India: Targeting, Catch Up, and Mismatch," NBER Working Papers 17727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Weinschenk, Philipp, 2016. "Procrastination in teams and contract design," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 264-283.
    13. Daniel J. Lee, 2016. "Racial bias and the validity of the Implicit Association Test," WIDER Working Paper Series 053, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    14. Kevin Lang & Jee-Yeon K. Lehmann, 2012. "Racial Discrimination in the Labor Market: Theory and Empirics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(4), pages 959-1006, December.
    15. Francisco B. Galarza, 2017. "Trust and Trustworthiness in College: An Experimental Analysis," Working Papers 17-03, Centro de Investigación, Universidad del Pacífico.
    16. repec:cpr:ceprdp:9179 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Ghani,Syed Ejaz & Grover,Arti & Kerr,Sari & Kerr,William Robert, 2016. "Will market competition trump gender discrimination in India ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7814, The World Bank.
    18. Huasheng Gao & Yaheng Lin & Yujing Ma, 2016. "Sex Discrimination and Female Top Managers: Evidence from China," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 138(4), pages 683-702, November.
    19. William J. Collins & Michael Q. Moody, 2017. "Racial Differences in American Women's Labor Market Outcomes: A Long-Run View," NBER Working Papers 23397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Corrado Giulietti & Mirco Tonin & Michael Vlassopoulos, 2015. "Racial Discrimination in Local Public Services: A Field Experiment in the US," BEMPS - Bozen Economics & Management Paper Series BEMPS33, Faculty of Economics and Management at the Free University of Bozen.
    21. Eleonora Patacchini & Giuseppe Ragusa & Yves Zenou, 2015. "Unexplored dimensions of discrimination in Europe: homosexuality and physical appearance," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(4), pages 1045-1073, October.
    22. Bond, Timothy N. & Lehmann, Jee-Yeon K., 2015. "Prejudice and Racial Matches in Employment," MPRA Paper 67494, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    23. Stephens-Davidowitz, Seth, 2014. "The cost of racial animus on a black candidate: Evidence using Google search data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 26-40.
    24. John M. Nunley & Adam Pugh & Nicholas Romero & Richard Alan Seals, Jr., 2014. "An Examination of Racial Discrimination in the Labor Market for Recent College Graduates: Estimates from the Field," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series auwp2014-06, Department of Economics, Auburn University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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