Working Paper No. 562

Government-Mandated Discriminatory Policies

Published: August 15, 2001 Pages: 25Keywords: Discrimination; Informational Free Riding; Income DistributionJEL-codes: D31; J45; J71

Government-Mandated Discriminatory Policies Hanming Fang and Peter Norman


This paper provides a simple explanation for why some minority groups are economically successful, despite being subject to government-mandated discriminatory policies. We study an economy with private and public sectors in which workers invest in imperfectly observable skills that are important to the private sector but not to the public sector. A law allows native majority workers to be employed in the public sector with positive probability while excluding the minority from it. We show that even when the public sector offers the highest wage rate, it is still possible that the discriminated group is, on average, economically more successful. The reason is that the preferential policy lowers the majority's incentive to invest in imperfectly observable skills by exacerbating the informational free riding problem in the private sector labor market.

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Social Capital and Health

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Martin Ljunge, IFN, is the author of a chapter, "Trust promotes health: addressing reverse causality by studying children of immigrants", in a new book edited by Sherman Folland and Eric Nauenberg. The cutting edge of research is presented, covering the ever-expanding social capital field.

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