What is discrimination?
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What is discrimination?

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What is discrimination

What is discrimination?

Consider the case of a taxi driver who is driving down a street at night in a dangerous part of town and is hailed simultaneously by people on each side of the street. It is equally easy for him to pick up either customer. On the left side of the street is a little old lady. On the right side is a tall African-American teenage boy wearing a hood. The taxi driver unhesitatingly chooses the little old lady over the teenager. Did he discriminate? Is he prejudiced?

“Some cabdrivers and taxi industry representatives assert that cab drivers bypassing blacks is not prejudice, but largely a precautionary response to cab driver concerns about being robbed. But black Americans know from bitter experience that it happens all too often to all sorts of African Americans and Hispanic Americans---males and females, young and old, those dressed casually and those dressed in business and even evening wear---who clearly have nothing more in mind than using a taxi to get where they're going. They know that all too often it's not the cab driver's fear of being robbed, it's the cab driver's prejudice that's responsible.”

—Hugh B. Price, President, National Urban League


What is discrimination

  • Discrimination: Treating people differently on the basis of their membership in a class

    • Discrimination need not imply racism, sexism, or prejudice.

  • Prejudice: dislike, distaste, or misperception based on innate characteristics such as race or sex

    • Prejudice can but need not generate discrimination.


What is discrimination

What is labor market discrimination?

Employer decisions that treat identical workers or applicants differently because of characteristics unrelated to their individual productivity.

Panera’s Bread: “If you pay attention to the girls waiting on you at the registers, though, you might notice some trends: first, they’re all girls between the ages of 16 and 24. Second, with rare exception, they’re all white.”

—Anna Walsh, “Panera Bread’s racist, sexist practices warrant boycott,” The Tartan, 12/5/2011


What is discrimination

“[W]hen I got out of college, they still had ads that were segregated by sex—jobs would say… Jobs Male… Jobs Female… And there was still an incredible amount of sexism in the journalism world when I got out. There were very few women. I was one of the first women in the sort of wave of women who went into journalism in the seventies. And I was part of a sex discrimination suit against the place that I worked at in New Haven because we discovered that the women and the men had pretty much the same education and experience and we were making like a third less.”

Trish Hall,

Op-Ed editor of

The New York Times.

Wage discrimination: paying women with identical qualifications less.

Occupational discrimination: shunting women into particular occupations.


What is discrimination

Measuring Labor Market Discrimination

Empirical Challenge—how can we separate wage differences due to discrimination from those due to differences in productivity created by different levels of training, education and experience, i.e., human capital?

Sample from 1980 Census, when Trish would have been roughly 30 years old.

Sample Selection Criteria:

  • Editor or Reporter (1980 occupation=195)

  • Employed by Newspaper (1980 industry=171)

  • Worked more than half-time (more than 20 hours per week & 26 weeks per year)

  • Wage per hour


What is discrimination

Table 1. Means of Dependent & Explanatory Variables

Less than a third of women were journalists

Female journalists earned, on average, 72.7 cents per hour for every dollar earned by male journalists. Their hourly wage was 27.3 % less than male journalists, on average.


What is discrimination

Button from 1970 worn by people protesting pay disparity between women and men


What is discrimination

Female journalists earned, on average, 31.4% less than male journalists, on average.

But, perhaps, it is because male journalists have more experience or education than female journalists


What is discrimination

Readings for Wednesday

Read!

Read only if interested


What is discrimination

Interpretation: The wages of female journalists in 1980 were 28.3% lower than their male colleagues, on average, holding age and education constant.

Method is called “Decomposition of wage differentials”

What portion of the wage gap is due to human capital factors, i.e., to differences in productivity?

The portion of the wage gap not explained by these differences is attributed to discrimination.


What is discrimination

Limitations of the wage gap of 28.3% as evidence of discrimination.

Not directly linked to discriminatory behavior—it is an unexplained difference between males and females. It may be biased due to omitted variables.


What is discrimination

Wood, Corcoran and Courant (1993)

Sample of Michigan Law School Grads of 1972-75.

Advantages

Three measures of academic performance

  • Grade Point Average (GPA)

  • Dummy variable for whether they participated in moot court.

  • Dummy variable for whether they were are the staff of the law review.

Disadvantage:

Sample is not representative of the general population


What is discrimination

Sample Means Fifteen Years After Graduation


What is discrimination

25%

100%


What is discrimination

M

C


What is discrimination

“Are you going to be in Florida?”

“No, Duty Calls”

Emma

Lizzie


What is discrimination

M

C


What is discrimination

Earnings

(thou. of $ per year)

C—Chip

M—Michelle

240

180

8 16

Unplanned Absences (days per year)


What is discrimination

Earnings

(thou. of $ per year)

240

180

A

1

2

8 16

Unplanned Absences (days per year)


What is discrimination

Earnings

(thou. of $ per year)

ΔEM

ΔEC

A

ΔA = –1

Unplanned Absences (days per year)


What is discrimination

Earnings

(thou. of $ per year)

240

180

1

2

8 16

Unplanned Absences (days per year)


What is discrimination

Limitations of the wage gap of 28.3% as evidence of discrimination.

2. Assumes that Education and Experience are not affected by discrimination. (Story about female funeral directors struggles to find apprenticeships.)

3. Assumes that the return to education and experience is the same for both groups. Story about the black cotton-picker.

“The observed productive characteristic that contributes most of the wage gap between women and men in the same occupation is labor market experience” (Ehrenberg & Smith, p. 404)


What is discrimination

Women

Men

Question: why were women journalists getting a lower return from experience and a higher one from education?


Differences in labor market preferences across genders

Differences in labor market preferences across genders?

  • Tastes for parenting

  • Physical attributes

  • Societal and parental expectations—How are these formed?

    • Past discrimination

    • Anticipated discrimination (Statistical discrimination becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.)


Is the wage gap changing over time

Is the wage gap changing over time?


What is discrimination

Sample from 2000 Census, when Trish would have been roughly 50 years old.

Sample Selection Criteria:

  • Editor (2000 code=283) or Reporter (281)

  • Employed by Newspaper (2000 industry=647)

  • Worked more than half-time (more than 20 hours per week & 26 weeks per year)

  • Wage per hour


What is discrimination

Table 1. Means of Dependent & Explanatory Variables


What is discrimination

2000 Census

1980 Census


What is discrimination

Women

Men


What is discrimination

Median Annual Earnings of Full-Time Workers by Gender, 1960-2010

Earnings

(thou. of 2010$)

Male

Female

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Historical Income Tables, Table P-38. Full-Time, Year-Round Workers by Median Earnings and Sex


What is discrimination

Gender Earnings Gap for Full-Time, Full-Year Workers, 1960-2010

77.4

60.7

All Measures of the Gender Gap are Narrowing


Why is the gender earnings gap closing

Why is the gender earnings gap closing?

  • Increases in labor market experience of women

  • Increases in the education of women.

  • Decreases in unionization

  • Increases in the demand for intellectual skills relative to physical strength.

  • Shifts of women into higher paying occupations

  • Decreases in discrimination?


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