Discrimination in the Publishing Industry?

43 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2020 Last revised: 7 Apr 2021

See all articles by Tin Cheuk Leung

Tin Cheuk Leung

Wake Forest University

Koleman S. Strumpf

Wake Forest University, Department of Economics

Date Written: April 4, 2021


There is growing attention to discrimination in the media and the arts with explicit policies put in place to guarantee salary and representation for specific groups. However, the empirical support for such policies is limited. In this paper we examine book publishing using detailed micro-data on author income. Historically certain groups received far lower incomes, and this gap has actually increased over time. Using current data we find that 1) male authors are indeed paid more than female authors; 2) non-white authors are actually paid more than white authors; 3) LGBT authors are paid less than straight authors. An advantage of our data is we can control for productivity through an author’s books sales. When we control for prior sales, we find that the racial pay gap disappeared and the gender pay gap become statistically insignificant. Similarly, we look at debut authors who do not have a track record and find that the pay gaps across demographic groups are larger than that among non-debut authors. These results suggest that salary gaps between demographic groups are more consistent with statistical models of discrimination rather animus-based motives.

Keywords: publishing industry, race discrimination, gender discrimination

JEL Classification: J3, J7, L82, Z1

Suggested Citation

Leung, Tin Cheuk and Strumpf, Koleman S., Discrimination in the Publishing Industry? (April 4, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3660289 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3660289

Tin Cheuk Leung (Contact Author)

Wake Forest University ( email )

Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States

Koleman S. Strumpf

Wake Forest University, Department of Economics ( email )

PO Box 7505
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States
336-758-5410 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://users.wfu.edu/strumpks

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