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Why Racial Stereotyping Doesn’t Just Go Away: The Question of Honesty and Work Ethic


  • Elaine McCrate


One of the most persistent stereotypes about blacks concerns honesty and work ethic. These characteristics are also central to employers' evaluation of prospective and current workers; employers say that these traits matter more than skills. However, honesty and work ethic are difficult to observe and assess, placing them squarely in the terrain of statistical discrimination theory. One common criticism of this theory is that employers should be able to collect enough information on prospective workers to render race irrelevant, and that high-quality workers have incentives to signal their productivity to employers regardless of race. As a result, inefficient stereotypes should erode over time. In contrast, I argue that there are many reasons for inefficient stereotypes about honesty and work ethic to persist, and I investigate the empirical evidence for these theories.

Suggested Citation

  • Elaine McCrate, 2006. "Why Racial Stereotyping Doesn’t Just Go Away: The Question of Honesty and Work Ethic," Working Papers wp115, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  • Handle: RePEc:uma:periwp:wp115

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Morris Goldstein & Nicholas R. Lardy, 2005. "China's Role in the Revived Bretton Woods System: A Case of Mistaken Identity," Working Paper Series WP05-2, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    2. Thomas I. Palley, 2005. "External Contradictions of the Chinese Development Model: Export-led Growth and the Dangers of Global Economic Contraction," Working Papers wp101, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    3. C. Fred Bergsten & Olivier Davanne & Pierre Jacquet, 1999. "The Case for Joint Management of Exchange Rate Flexibility," Working Paper Series wp99-9, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
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    JEL classification:

    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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