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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 rent-seeking 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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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/8543/1/MPRA_paper_8543.pdf
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    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 8543.

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    Date of creation: 01 May 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:8543
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    1. Kaushik Basu, 2005. "Racial conflict and the malignancy of identity," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 221-241, December.
    2. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1996. "Contest Success Functions," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 283-90, February.
    3. 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.
    4. Benabou, R. & Ok, E.A., 1998. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: The POUM Hypothesis," Working Papers 98-23, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    5. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Why Did The West Extend The Franchise? Democracy, Inequality, And Growth In Historical Perspective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1167-1199, November.
    6. Richard Cornes & Roger Hartley, 2002. "Asymmetric Contests with General Technologies," Keele Economics Research Papers KERP 2002/22, Centre for Economic Research, Keele University.
    7. Michael Hoy & Michael Ruse, 2005. "Regulating Genetic Information in Insurance Markets," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 8(2), pages 211-237, 09.
    8. J. Amegashie, 2006. "A contest success function with a tractable noise parameter," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 126(1), pages 135-144, January.
    9. Coate, S. & Loury, G.C., 1992. "Will Affirmative Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," Papers 3, Boston University - Department of Economics.
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