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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 the importance of learning economics?
Thelma Reply
the difference between needs and wants
londiwe Reply
needs are things that we basically can't live without wants are just luxury things
Thelma
needs are things without them we can't live but want are things without we can live
KP
what is education
KP
it's a process in which we give or receiving methodical instructions
Thelma
what is mixed economy
Amex
what is a deadweight loss? how monopoly creates a deadweight loss?
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Lamine
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Cleaford
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Creative
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Lamine
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taiwo Reply
how to understand basics of economics
Aarif Reply
what is demand schedle
Princess Reply
When you make a Scedule of the demand you made
Rodeen
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Prema Reply
What is macroeconomics
Kauna Reply
It's one of the two branches of Economics that deal with the aggregate economy.
Mayen
it's about inflation, occupation, gdp and so on
alberto
What is differences between Microeconomics and Macroeconomic?
Bethrand
a price floor of 24 imposed
Annie Reply
monopolistic competition
bintu Reply
yap
nura
any one there to answer my question
Richard Reply
Fixed Costs per week Variable Costs per bear Rent & Rates of Factory Hire & machines Heating & Lighting Repayment of Bank Loan K100.00 K45.00 K5.00 K50.00 Materials Foam Wages K6.00 K1.00 K1.00 Total K200.00 K8.00
Richard
one of the scarce resources that constrain our behaviour is time. each of us has only 24 hours in a day. how do you go about allocating your time in a given day among completing alternatives? once you choose a most important use of time. why do you not spend all your time to it. use the notion of op
naknak Reply
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Dipam Reply
Economics- The study of how people use their limited resources to tey and satisfy unlimited wants.
Kelly
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Mani
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Mohsina
what is defination of acnomics
Mani Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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