Labor Market Discrimination During Post-Communist Transition: A Monopsony Approach to the Status of Latvia's Russian Minority
Conventional wisdom suggests that during communism, tastes for discrimination were suppressed. In partial explanation for ethnic tensions observed following central planning, economic liberalization allows those tastes to be expressed. This paper explores the feasibility of monopsony as an economic structure supportive of discrimination during transition, using Latvia's ethnic Russians as a case study. Measuring employment concentration and earnings differentials across regions, monopsony appears prevalent in the country. A monopsony explanation requires Russians to have lower labor supply elasticity than Latvians, a condition which estimates for participation probability confirm. Earnings decompositions show that though Russians are paid more than Latvians on average, given their human capital characteristics, they suffer earnings discrimination of between 5.5 and 7.3 percent. In addition, compared with Latvians the likelihood that Russians will be unemployed is greater, though Russians are less likely to register for unemployment services. This evidence suggests that lack of integrated, flexible labor markets in Latvia, and the monopsony which results, have supported labor market discrimination against Russians during transition.
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