Racial Discrimination in the Labor Market: Theory and Empirics

Abstract We review theories of race discrimination in the labor market. Taste-based models can generate wage and unemployment duration differentials when combined with either random or directed search even when strong prejudice is not widespread, but no existing model explains the unemployment rate differential. Models of statistical discrimination based on differential observability of productivity across races can explain the pattern and magnitudes of wage differentials but do not address employment and unemployment. At their current state of development, models of statistical discrimination based on rational stereotypes have little empirical content. It is plausible that models combining elements of the search models with statistical discrimination could fit the data. We suggest possible avenues to be pursued and comment briefly on the implication of existing theory for public policy. (JEL J15, J31, J64, J71)

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Journal of Economic Literature

The Journal of Economic Literature is a peer-reviewed academic journal on economy published by the American Economic Association. It was established in 1963 as the Journal of Economic Abstracts. As a review journal, it mainly features essays and reviews of recent economic theories (as opposed to the latest research). Its current editor in chief is Steven Durlauf.

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