Culture, Information, and Screening Discrimination

JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, Vol. 104, No. 3, June 1996

Posted: 21 Jun 1996

See all articles by Bradford Cornell

Bradford Cornell

California Institute of Technology

Ivo Welch

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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We show that discrimination can occur even when it is common knowledge that underlying group characteristics do not differ and when employers do not prefer same-group candidates. When employers can judge job applicants' unknown qualities better when candidates belong to the same group and hire the best prospect from a large pool of applicants, the top applicant is likely to have the same background as the employer. The model has policy, empirical, and experimental implications. For example, the model predicts that "screening discrimination" is more likely to occur and persist in sectors in which underlying quality is important but difficult to observe, there are numerous applicants, interviewing (screening) is relatively cheap, and applicants have to acquire job-specific skills.

JEL Classification: J23, D82, J41, M12

Suggested Citation

Cornell, Bradford and Welch, Ivo, Culture, Information, and Screening Discrimination. JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, Vol. 104, No. 3, June 1996. Available at SSRN:

Bradford Cornell (Contact Author)

California Institute of Technology ( email )

Pasadena, CA 91125
United States
310-825-2922 (Phone)
310-206-5455 (Fax)

Ivo Welch

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States
310-825-2508 (Phone)


National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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