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The Effectiveness of Equal Employment Law and Affirmative Action Regulation

Listed author(s):
  • Jonathan S. Leonard

This paper reviews some recent empirical analyses of the impact of affirmative action and anti-discrimination law on employment and productivity.The major findings are that:1)Affirmative action has some success in improving employment opportunities for minorities and females, particularly for blacks. Results for white females are mixed. 2)Increases in black employment under affirmative action have taken place in both high-skilled and low-skilled occupations. 3)Compliance reviews have not been targeted against establishments with the lowest relative proportions of minority or female employment. Targetting seems more compatible with an earnings redistribution rather than an anti-discrimination program. 4)While many of the detailed enforcement steps and sanctions of the contract compliance process seem to have little effect individually,the compliance review process as a whole has been effective. 5)The system of goals and timetables have not been adhered to as rigidly as one might expect of quotas. The goals firms agree to are greatly inflated relative to their subsequent achievements, but they are not hollow promises. 6)Litigation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has played a significant role in increasing black employment. In addition, as minority and female employment shares have increased,their relative productivity, while poorly measured, has not significantly declined.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1745.

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Date of creation: Oct 1985
Publication status: published as Leonard, Jonathan S. "The Effectiveness of Equal Employment Law and Affirmative Action Regulation," Research in Labor Economics, Vol. 8, Part B, 1987,pp. 319-350.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1745
Note: LS
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  1. Richard Butler & James J. Heckman, 1977. "The Government's Impact on the Labor Market Status of Black Americans: A Critical Review," NBER Working Papers 0183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Smith, James P, 1978. "The Improving Economic Status of Black Americans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 171-178, May.
  3. Charles Brown, 1981. "The Federal Attack on Labor Market Discrimination: The Mouse that Roared?," NBER Working Papers 0669, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Leonard, Jonathan S, 1984. "The Impact of Affirmative Action on Employment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(4), pages 439-463, October.
  5. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis, 1984. "Affirmative Action and Labor Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(2), pages 269-301, April.
  6. Orley Ashenfelter & James J. Heckman, 1974. "Measuring the Effect of an Anti-Discrimination Program," NBER Working Papers 0050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. James J. Heckman & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1976. "Does the Contract Compliance Program Work? An Analysis of Chicago Data," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 29(4), pages 544-564, July.
  8. Morris Goldstein & Robert S. Smith, 1976. "The Estimated Impact of the Antidiscrimination Program Aimed at Federal Contractors," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 29(4), pages 523-543, July.
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