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Social Interaction and the Minority-Majority Earnings Inequality : Why Being a Minority Hurts but being a big Minority Hurts More

Listed author(s):
  • Kahanec, M.

    (Tilburg University, Center For Economic Research)

Empirical findings that minorities typically attain lower economic status than majorities and that relatively larger minorities perform worse than smaller ones pose a challenge to economics.To explain this scale puzzle, I model an economy where the society is bifurcated into two social groups that differ in their size and sociocultural characteristics - the minority and the majority - and individuals form their human capital through social interaction in social networks.I establish that the different social group sizes and the sociocultural differences suffice to generate earnings inequality between the two social groups whenever sociocultural differences hinder social interaction between majority and minority individuals and there are networks effects in human capital acquisition.If there are, in addition, asymmetric information in the labor market and a choice of heterogeneous skills in the economy, minority and majority individuals tend to acquire different (combinations of) skills and the predicted patterns of income inequality comply with the scale puzzle under fairly general conditions.Moreover, in this study I offer an answer why some minorities do better than majorities, why minority individuals tend to spend more time socializing in families than in schools, and why integration may harm minorities.

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File URL: https://pure.uvt.nl/portal/files/601229/41.pdf
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Paper provided by Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research in its series Discussion Paper with number 2004-41.

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Date of creation: 2004
Handle: RePEc:tiu:tiucen:b005ba00-ef9c-42bb-b5c5-7323873d4448
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://center.uvt.nl

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  1. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1176-1209, December.
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  4. Lundberg, Shelly & Startz, Richard, 1998. "On the Persistence of Racial Inequality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 292-323, April.
  5. Durlauf, Steven N., 1994. "Spillovers, stratification, and inequality," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 836-845, April.
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  7. Annen, Kurt, 2003. "Social capital, inclusive networks, and economic performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 449-463, April.
  8. Finis Welch, 1967. "Labor-Market Discrimination: An Interpretation of Income Differences in the Rural South," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 225-225.
  9. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-1189, December.
  10. Robert H. Topel, 1997. "Factor Proportions and Relative Wages: The Supply-Side Determinants of Wage Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 55-74, Spring.
  11. Jacob Mincer, 1958. "Investment in Human Capital and Personal Income Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 281-281.
  12. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-661, September.
  13. William A. Darity Jr., 1982. "The Human Capital Approach to Black-White Earnings Inequality: Some Unsettled Questions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(1), pages 72-93.
  14. Dennis J. Aigner & Glen G. Cain, 1977. "Statistical Theories of Discrimination in Labor Markets," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 30(2), pages 175-187, January.
  15. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn C, 1993. "Will Affirmative-Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1220-1240, December.
  16. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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