NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Affirmative Action as Earnings Redistribution: The Targeting of Compliance Reviews

Jonathan S. Leonard

NBER Working Paper No. 1328
Issued in April 1984
NBER Program(s):   LS

Affirmative action may be broadly conceived of as pursuing either the goal of reducing discrimination or that of redistributing jobs and earnings. I attempt to infer the ends of affirmative action policy by analyzing the historical record of enforcement. Optimal enforcement strategies are developed for both the anti-discrimination and the earnings redistribution models, and then compared with new data on the actual targeting of affirmative action compliance reviews during the late 1970s. I find that establishments with very low proportions of minority or female workers are not significantly more likely to be reviewed, but that white-collar intensive establishments are more likely to be reviewed. This indicates the shortcomings of the anti-discrimination model inexplaining the OFCCP's behavior, and suggests the potential usefulness of the earnings redistribution model.

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Published: Leonard, Jonathan S. "Affirmative Action as Earnings Redistibution: The Targeting of Compliance Reviews." Journal of Labor Economics, Vol. 3, No.3,(July 1985), pp. 363-384.

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