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Competition and Gender Prejudice: Are Discriminatory Employers Doomed to Fail?

  • Andrea Weber


  • Christine Zulehner

According to Becker's (1957) famous theory on discrimination, entrepreneurs with a strong prejudice against female workers forgo profits by submitting to their tastes. In a competitive market their firms lack efficiency and are therefore forced to leave. We present new empirical evidence for this prediction by studying the survival of startup firms in a large longitudinal matched employer-employee data set from Austria. Our results show that firms with strong preferences for discrimination, i.e. a low share of female employees relatively to the industry average, have significantly shorter survival rates. This is especially relevant for firms starting out with female shares in the lower tail of the distribution. They exit about 18 months earlier than firms with a median share of females. We see no differences in survival between firms at the top of the female share distribution and at the median, though. We further document that highly discriminatory firms that manage to survive submit to market powers and increase their female workforce over time.

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Paper provided by Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen in its series Ruhr Economic Papers with number 0146.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rwi:repape:0146
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  1. Sandra E. Black & Elizabeth Brainerd, 2002. "Importing Equality? The Impact of Globalization on Gender Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 9110, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bandiera, Oriana & Barankay, Iwan & Rasul, Imran, 2009. "Social Connections and Incentives in the Workplace: Evidence from Personnel Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 7114, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Geroski, Paul A, 1998. "An Applied Econometrician's View of Large Company Performance," CEPR Discussion Papers 1862, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Asa Rosen, 2003. "Search, Bargaining, and Employer Discrimination," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(4), pages 807-830, October.
  5. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete too Much?," Discussion Papers 04-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  6. Imran Rasul & Iwan Barankay & Orana Bandiera, 2005. "Social preferences and the response to incentives: Evidence from personnel data," Natural Field Experiments 00212, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Jonathan Guryan, 2008. "Prejudice and Wages: An Empirical Assessment of Becker's The Economics of Discrimination," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(5), pages 773-809, October.
  8. Sandra E. Black & Philip E. Strahan, 2001. "The Division of Spoils: Rent-Sharing and Discrimination in a Regulated Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 814-831, September.
  9. René Böheim & Helmut Hofer & Christine Zulehner, 2007. "Wage differences between Austrian men and women: semper idem?," Empirica, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 213-229, July.
  10. Black, Dan A, 1995. "Discrimination in an Equilibrium Search Model," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 309-33, April.
  11. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  12. Orley Ashenfelter & Timothy Hannan, 1986. "Sex Discrimination and Product Market Competition: The Case of the Banking Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 149-173.
  13. Kevin Lang & Michael Manove & William T. Dickens, 2005. "Racial Discrimination in Labor Markets with Posted Wage Offers," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-145, Boston University - Department of Economics.
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