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Statistical Discrimination


Definition: Statistical discrimination is a theory of why minority groups are paid less when hired. The theory is roughly that managers, who are of one type (say, white), are more culturally attuned to the applicants of their own type than to applicants of another type (say, black), and therefore they have a better measure of the likely productivity of the applicants of their own type. (There is uncertainty in the manager's predictions about blacks and probably of whites too, but more uncertainty for blacks.) Because the managers are risk averse they bid more for a white applicant of a given apparent productivity than for a black one, since their measure of the white's productivity is better. This theory predicts that white managers would offer black applicants lower starting wages than whites of the same apparent ability, even if the manager is not prejudiced against the blacks.


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