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What Has Economics to Say about Racial Discrimination?

Kenneth Arrow

Journal of Economic Perspectives, 1998, vol. 12, issue 2, 91-100

Abstract: Racial discrimination pervades every aspect of a society in which it is found. It is found above all in attitudes of both races, but also in social relations, in intermarriage, in residential location, and, frequently, in legal barriers. It is also found in levels of economic accomplishment; that is, income, wages, prices paid, and credit extended. It is natural to suppose that economic analysis can cast light on the economic effects of racial discrimination. But the pervasiveness of the phenomenon must give us pause. Can a phenomenon manifest everywhere in the social world really be understood, even in only one aspect, by the tools of a single discipline? I want to explore here the scope and limits of ordinary economic analysis for understanding racial discrimination even in markets.

JEL-codes: J71 J15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1998
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.12.2.91
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