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Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 12 No. 2 (Spring 1998)

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Evidence on Discrimination in Employment: Codes of Color, Codes of Gender

Article Citation

Darity, William A., and Patrick L. Mason. 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Employment: Codes of Color, Codes of Gender." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 12(2): 63-90.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.12.2.63

Abstract

There is substantial racial and gender disparity in the American economy. As we will demonstrate, discriminatory treatment within the labor market is a major cause of this inequality. Yet, there appear to have been particular periods in which racial minorities, and then women, experienced substantial reductions in economic disparity and discrimination. Some questions remain: Why did the movement toward racial equality stagnate after the mid-1970s? What factors are most responsible for the remaining gender inequality? What is the role of the competitive process in elimination or reproduction of discrimination in employment? How successful has the passage of federal antidiscrimination legislation in the 1960s been in producing an equal opportunity environment where job applicants are now evaluated on their qualifications? To give away the answer at the outset, discrimination by race has diminished somewhat, and discrimination by gender has diminished substantially; neither employment discrimination by race or by gender is close to ending. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent related legislation has purged American society of the most overt forms of discrimination, while discriminatory practices have continued in more covert and subtle forms. Furthermore, racial discrimination is masked and rationalized by widely-held presumptions of black inferiority.

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Authors

Darity, William A. (U NC)
Mason, Patrick L. (U Notre Dame)

JEL Classifications

J71: Labor Discrimination
J15: Economics of Minorities and Races; Non-labor Discrimination
J16: Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
J23: Labor Demand

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