Race, Glass Ceilings, and Lower Pay for Equal Work
83 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2021 Last revised: 9 Jun 2022
Date Written: June 7, 2022
Using detailed administrative data that allow us to hold gender, education, productivity, timeliness, and work quality constant, we document that minority patent examiners at the U.S. patent office face substantial pay gaps and glass ceilings. The promotion gap relative to White examiners averages 24.4% for Blacks, 10.2% for Hispanics, and 4.7% for Asians, with Black examiners 41.8% less likely than Whites to be promoted to the highest rank. Black supervisors who were promoted slowly themselves tend to promote Black examiners particularly slowly. Our evidence is most consistent with a nuanced form of taste-based discrimination, except at the top of the career ladder, where we cannot rule out statistical discrimination. Promotion gaps hurt examiner productivity and contribute to the growing backlog of unexamined patent applications.
Keywords: Promotions, Glass ceilings, Pay, Discrimination, Race, Internal labor markets, Patents, Innovation
JEL Classification: D23, O31, O34, J15, D91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation