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Are Affirmative Action Hires Less Qualified? Evidence from Employer-Employee Data on New Hires

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  • Harry Holzer
  • David Neumark

Abstract

In this paper we use micro-level data on employers and employees to investigate whether Affirmative Action procedures lead firms to hire minority or female employees who are less qualified than workers who might otherwise be hired. Our measures of qualifications include the educational attainment of the workers hired (both absolutely and relative to job requirements), skill requirements of the job into which they are hired, and a variety of outcome measures that are presumably related to worker performance on the job. The analysis is based on a representative sample of over 3,200 employers in four major metropolitan areas in the U.S. Our results show some evidence of lower educational qualifications among blacks and Hispanics hired under Affirmative Action, but not among white women. Further, our results show little evidence of substantially weaker job performance among most groups of minority and female Affirmative Action hires.

Suggested Citation

  • Harry Holzer & David Neumark, 1996. "Are Affirmative Action Hires Less Qualified? Evidence from Employer-Employee Data on New Hires," NBER Working Papers 5603, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5603
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:aea:jeclit:v:55:y:2017:i:3:p:789-865 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Hutchens, R & Nolen, PJ, 2006. "Will The Real Family-Friendly Employer Please Stand Up: Who Permits Parents To Reduce Working Hours For Purposes of Childcare?," Economics Discussion Papers 2905, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    3. Hutchens, Robert M., 2007. "Worker Characteristics, Job Characteristics, and Opportunities for Phased Retirement," IZA Discussion Papers 2564, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Prakash, Nishith, 2008. "Improving the Labor Market Outcomes of Minorities: The Role of Employment Quota," MPRA Paper 11010, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2017. "The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(3), pages 789-865, September.
    6. Barbara F. Reskin & Denise D. Bielby, 2005. "A Sociological Perspective on Gender and Career Outcomes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 71-86, Winter.
    7. Caitlin Knowles Myers, 2007. "A Cure for Discrimination? Affirmative Action and the Case of California's Proposition 209," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(3), pages 379-396, April.
    8. Cecilia Rouse & Claudia Goldin, 2000. "Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of "Blind" Auditions on Female Musicians," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 715-741, September.
    9. Eddy Ng & Willi Wiesner, 2007. "Are Men Always Picked Over Women? The Effects of Employment Equity Directives on Selection Decisions," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 76(2), pages 177-187, December.
    10. David Neumark, 1998. "Labor Market Information and Wage Differentials by Race and Sex," NBER Working Papers 6573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Beaurain, Guillaume & Masclet, David, 2016. "Does affirmative action reduce gender discrimination and enhance efficiency? New experimental evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 350-362.
    12. Marcela Ibanez & Gerhard Riener & Ashok Rai, 2013. "Sorting Through Affirmative Action: Two Field Experiments in Colombia," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 150, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    13. Hutchens, Robert M. & Grace-Martin, Karen, 2004. "Who Among White Collar Workers Has an Opportunity for Phased Retirement? Establishment Characteristics," IZA Discussion Papers 1155, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Joanne D. Leck, 2002. "Making Employment Equity Programs Work for Women," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 28(s1), pages 85-100, May.
    15. repec:eee:corfin:v:45:y:2017:i:c:p:651-668 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. T. Clifton Green & Narasimhan Jegadeesh & Yue Tang, 2007. "Gender and Job Performance: Evidence from Wall Street," NBER Working Papers 12897, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Picault Julien, 2017. "Risk-Averse Managers, Labour Market Structures, Public Policies and Discrimination," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 17(1), pages 1-36, January.
    18. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pc:p:3143-3259 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. H. J. Holzer, "undated". "Why do small establishments hire fewer blacks than large ones," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1119-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    20. Alex Coad & Sven-Olov Daunfeldt & Dan Johansson & Karl Wennberg, 2014. "Whom do high-growth firms hire?," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(1), pages 293-327, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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