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Socially-Tolerable Discrimination

  • Amegashie, J. Atsu
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    History is replete with overt discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, citizenship, ethnicity, marital status, academic performance, health status, volume of market transactions, religion, sexual orientation, etc. However, these forms of discrimination are not equally tolerable. For example, discrimination based on immutable or prohibitively unalterable characteristics such as race, gender, or ethnicity is much less acceptable. Why? I develop a simple model of conflict which is driven by either racial (gender or ethnic) discrimination or generational discrimination (i.e., young versus old). When the conflicts are mutually exclusive, I find that racial discrimination is socially intolerable for a much wider range of parameter values relative to generational discrimination. When they are not mutually exclusive, I find that racial discrimination can be socially intolerable while generational discrimination is socially tolerable. The converse is not true. My results are not driven by a stronger intrinsic aversion to discrimination on the basis of immutable characteristics. I am able to explain why some forms of discrimination (e.g., racism) are much less tolerable than other forms of discrimination (e.g., age discrimination) without making any value judgements about either form of discrimination.

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    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 8238.

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    Date of creation: 11 Apr 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:8238
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    1. Joan Esteban & Debraj Ray, 2008. "On the Salience of Ethnic Conflict," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2185-2202, December.
    2. Basu, Kaushik, 2005. "Racial Conflict and the Malignancy of Identity," Working Papers 05-02, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
    3. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1998. "Why did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality and Growth in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 1797, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Bénabou, Roland & Ok, Efe A, 1998. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: the POUM Hypothesis," CEPR Discussion Papers 1955, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1996. "Contest Success Functions," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 283-90, February.
    6. J. Amegashie, 2006. "A contest success function with a tractable noise parameter," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 126(1), pages 135-144, January.
    7. Baye, Michael R. & Hoppe, Heidrun C., 2003. "The strategic equivalence of rent-seeking, innovation, and patent-race games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 217-226, August.
    8. Richard L. Fullerton & R. Preston McAfee, 1999. "Auctioning Entry into Tournaments," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 573-605, June.
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