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Market Forces and Sex Discrimination

  • Judith K. Hellerstein
  • David Neumark
  • Kenneth R. Troske

We report new evidence on the existence of sex discrimination in wages and whether competitive market forces act to reduce or eliminate discrimination. Specifically, we use plant- and firm-level data to examine the relationships between profitability, growth and ownership changes, product market power, and the sex composition of a plant's or firm's workforce. Our strongest finding is that among plants with high levels of product market power, those that employ relatively more women are more profitable. No such relationship exists for plants with apparently low levels of market power. This is consistent with sex discrimination in wages in the short run in markets where plants have product market power. We also examine evidence on the longer-run effects of market forces on discrimination, asking whether discriminatory employers with market power are punished over time through lower growth than non-discriminatory employers, or whether discriminatory employers are bought out by non-discriminators. We find little evidence that this occurs over a five-year period, as growth and ownership changes for plants with market power are generally not significantly related to the sex composition of a plant's workforce.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6321.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6321.

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Date of creation: Dec 1997
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Publication status: published as Hellerstein, Judith K., David Neumark, and Kenneth Troske. “Market Forces and Sex Discrimination." Journal of Human Resources (Spring 2002): 353-380.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6321
Note: LS
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  1. Hellerstein, Judith K & Neumark, David & Troske, Kenneth R, 1999. "Wages, Productivity, and Worker Characteristics: Evidence from Plant-Level Production Functions and Wage Equations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(3), pages 409-46, July.
  2. Joni Hersch, 1991. "Equal Employment Opportunity Law and Firm Profitability," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(1), pages 139-153.
  3. Becker, Gary S., 1971. "The Economics of Discrimination," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 2, number 9780226041162.
  4. Kenneth R. Troske, 1998. "Evidence on the Employer Size-Wage Premium From Worker-Establishment Matched Data," Labor and Demography 9807001, EconWPA.
  5. David Neumark, 1988. "Employers' Discriminatory Behavior and the Estimation of Wage Discrimination," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(3), pages 279-295.
  6. Goldberg, Matthew S, 1982. "Discrimination, Nepotism, and Long-Run Wage Differentials," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(2), pages 307-19, May.
  7. Ian Domowitz & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1986. "Business Cycles and the Relationship Between Concentration and Price-Cost Margins," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 1-17, Spring.
  8. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-84, December.
  9. Robert H Mcguckin & George A Pascoe, 1988. "The Longitudinal Research Database (LRD): Status And Research Possibilities," Working Papers 88-2, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  10. Ashenfelter, Orley & Hannan, Timothy, 1986. "Sex Discrimination and Product Market Competition: The Case of the Banking Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(1), pages 149-73, February.
  11. Judith K. Hellerstein & David Neumark, 1995. "Are Earnings Profiles Steeper Than Productivity Profiles? Evidence from Israeli Firm-Level Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 89-112.
  12. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M. R. A. Engel & John C. Haltiwanger, 1995. "Plant-Level Adjustment and Aggregate Investment Dynamics," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(2), pages 1-54.
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