What is Discrimination? Gender in the American Economic Association

Stephen Donald, Daniel S. Hamermesh

NBER Working Paper No. 10684
Issued in August 2004
NBER Program(s):   LS

Measuring market discrimination is extremely difficult except in the increasingly rare case where physical output measures allow direct measurement of productivity. We illustrate this point with evidence on elections to offices of the American Economic Association. Using a new technique to infer the determinants of the chances of observing a particular outcome when there are K choices out of N possibilities, we find that female candidates have a much better than random chance of victory. This advantage can be interpreted either as reverse discrimination or as reflecting voters' beliefs that women are more productive than observationally identical men in this activity. If the former this finding could be explained by the behavior of an unchanging median voter whose gender preferences were not satisfied by the suppliers of candidates for office; but there was a clear structural change in voting behavior in the mid-1970s. The results suggest that it is not generally possible to claim that differences in rewards for different groups measure the extent of discrimination or even its direction.

download in pdf format
   (289 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (289 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10684

Published: "What Is Discrimination? Gender in the American Economic Association, 1935-2004" Donald, Stephen G.; Hamermesh, Daniel S.; American Economic Review, September 2006, v. 96, iss. 4, pp. 1283-92

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Kuhn and Shen w17453 Gender Discrimination in Job Ads: Theory and Evidence
Black and Brainerd w9110 Importing Equality? The Impact of Globalization on Gender Discrimination
Barth and Dale-Olsen w7197 Monopsonistic Discrimination and the Gender-Wage Gap
Blau and Kahn w7732 Gender Differences in Pay
Hellerstein, Neumark, and Troske w6321 Market Forces and Sex Discrimination
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us