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Systemic Discrimination: Theory and Measurement

Aislinn Bohren, Peter Hull and Alex Imas

No 29820, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Economics often defines and measures discrimination as disparities arising from the direct effect of group identity. We develop new tools to model and measure systemic discrimination, which captures how discriminatory decisions in other domains—past, future, or contemporaneous—contribute to disparities in a given decision. We show that systemic discrimination can be driven by disparate signaling technologies or differential opportunities for skill development. We then propose a new measure based on a decomposition of total discrimination into direct and systemic components, and show how it can be used to estimate systemic discrimination in both experimental and observational data. We illustrate these new tools in three applications, including a novel Iterated Audit experimental paradigm with real hiring managers. The applications also identify behavioral frictions that blunt the impact of individual-level interventions and perpetuate systemic discrimination, suggesting the need for systems-based policy responses to systemic discrimination.

JEL-codes: D63 D83 J16 J71 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-lma
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (18)

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Working Paper: Systemic Discrimination: Theory and Measurement (2022) Downloads
Working Paper: Systemic Discrimination: Theory and Measurement (2022) Downloads
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