Government-Mandated Discriminatory Policies
University of British Columbia - Department of Economics
University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
November 22, 2004
SSRI Working Paper No. 2001-12
This paper provides a simple explanation for why some minority groups are economically successful, despite being subject to government-mandated discriminatory policies. We study an economy with private and public sectors in which workers invest in imperfectly observable skills that are important to the private sector but not to the public sector. A law allows native majority workers to be employed in the public sector with positive probability while excluding the minority from it. We show that even when the public sector offers the highest wage rate, it is still possible that the discriminated group is, on average, economically more successful. The reason is that the preferential policy lowers the majority's incentive to invest in imperfectly observable skills by exacerbating the informational free riding problem in the private sector labor market.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Discrimination, successful minorities, free-riding, human capital
JEL Classification: D62, D63, H23, J71, J78working papers series
Date posted: July 30, 2001
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