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If a business is located in an area with a large minority population and refuses to sell to minorities, it will cut into its own profits. If some businesses run by bigoted employers refuse to pay women and/or minorities a wage based on their productivity, then other profit-seeking employers can hire these workers. In a competitive market , if the owners of a business care more about the color of money than about the color of skin, they will have an incentive to make buying, selling, hiring, and promotion decisions strictly based on economic factors.

The power of markets to offer at least a degree of freedom to oppressed groups should not be underestimated. In many countries, cohesive minority groups like Jews and emigrant Chinese have managed to carve out a space for themselves through their economic activities, despite legal and social discrimination against them. Many immigrants, including those who come to the United States, have taken advantage of economic freedom to make new lives for themselves. However, history teaches that market forces alone are unlikely to eliminate discrimination. After all, discrimination against African Americans persisted in the market-oriented U.S. economy during the century between President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves in 1863, and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—and has continued since then, too.

So why does discrimination persist in competitive markets? Gary Becker sought to explain this persistence. Discriminatory impulses can emerge at a number of levels: among managers, among workers, and among customers. Consider the situation of a manager who is not personally prejudiced, but who has many workers or customers who are prejudiced. If that manager treats minority groups or women fairly, the manager may find it hurts the morale of prejudiced co-workers or drives away prejudiced customers. In such a situation, a policy of nondiscrimination could reduce the firm’s profits. After all, a business firm is part of society, and a firm that does not follow the societal norms is likely to suffer. Market forces alone are unlikely to overwhelm strong social attitudes about discrimination.

Visit this website to read more about wage discrimination.

Public policies to reduce discrimination

A first public policy step against discrimination in the labor market is to make it illegal. For example, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 said that men and women who do equal work at a company must be paid the same. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibited discrimination on the basis of age against individuals who are 40 years of age or older. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 provides monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was aimed at prohibiting discrimination against women in the workplace who are planning to get pregnant, are pregnant, or are returning after pregnancy. Passing a law, however, is only part of the answer, since discrimination by prejudiced employers may be less important than broader social patterns.

Questions & Answers

what is elasticity, perfectly elastic, inelastic
Rue Reply
When 01 the demand is elastic
Myriam
when demand curve is horizental the curve is perfectly elastic ...when demand curve is vertical then it is perfectly inelastic
Ashfaq
elasticity means that percentage change in quantity demanded due to percentage change in price
Ashfaq
introduction to elasticity of demand
Dalhatu Reply
what is price commonly called in the labour market
AYUBA Reply
wages?
penn
Explain demand curve
Ibrahim
price in labour market is Marginal Physical Productivity...
azad
what is the price of elasticity of demand
Mahesh Reply
it is the responsiveness of a certain good. and it is calculated as follows: PED=%change in quantity demanded /%change in price
Rue
what is per capita income
Kafwimbi Reply
what is GDP of an economy
Kafwimbi
Gross Domestic Product
grace
Why is scarcity the main problem of economics
Nicholas Reply
Because of unlimited needs and wants demanded by the household
Jeremiah
what is GDP deflator?
saud
Because of endless needs and wants required to achieve maximum satisfaction possible by consumers
Nobert
how to calculate price elasticity demand?
Precious Reply
change in quantity over quantity divided by change in price over price
Pele
Percentage change in quantity demanded over the percentage change in price
Nobert
if the local pizzeria raises the price of a medium pizza from Rd.60to 100 & quantity demanded falls from 700 pizzas a night to 100 pizzas at night , the price elasticity of demand for pizzas is:
Lakshmi Reply
1.2. Measurement of price Elasticity of demand
Lakshmi
0.11
Nobert
Lakshmi tell me how wrong am I coz I see you've got different answer from mine?
Nobert
_1.28
Melvis
explain how price and output are determind by a discriminating monopolist
Hiraj Reply
price and output determined through interaction between demand curve and supply curve...
Ajay
how do I view the graphs
Patricia Reply
how do I open the links
Patricia
what is the markert
Ester Reply
A market is any place where buying and selling can take place.
Landing
20. Why is a football game on ESPN a quasi-public good but a game on the NBC, CBS, or ABC is a public good?
Brigam Reply
how people make decision?
Xafsa Reply
what is supply and demand
Xafsa Reply
Demand refers to how much (quantity) of a product or service is desired by buyers. The quantity demanded is the amount of a product people are willing to buy at a certain price.
Landing
thank you very much
Xafsa
list and briefly explain the three principles that describe how the economy as whole works?
Xafsa
what is algebra?
ibiflower Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Microeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11627/1.10
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