Market Forces and Sex Discrimination

Judith K. Hellerstein, David Neumark, and Kenneth R. Troske, The Journal of Human Resources 37(2), 353-380, .


We report new evidence on the existence of sex discrimination in wages and whether competitive market forces reduce or eliminate discrimination, based on plant- and firm-level data on profitability, growth and ownership changes, product market power, and workforce sex composition. Our strongest finding is that among plants with high levels of product market power, those employing more women are more profitable, consistent with sex discrimination in the short run when plants have product market power. We do not find that these discriminatory employers are punished over time through lower growth, or are bought out by nondiscriminators.

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