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The Price of Prejudice: Labour Market Discrimination on the Grounds of Gender and Ethnicity

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Abstract:

Despite some progress, there is still evidence of discrimination on the grounds of gender and ethnic or racial origins in OECD labour markets. Field experiments show pervasive ethnic discrimination in many countries. Indirect evidence shows that on average at least 8% of the gender employment gap and a larger proportion of the gender wage gap can be attributed to discrimination. Virtually all OECD countries have enacted anti‐discrimination laws in recent decades, and evaluations as well as cross‐country analysis suggest that, if well‐designed, these laws can be effective in reducing disparities in labour market outcomes. However, enforcement of antidiscrimination legislation is essentially based on victims' willingness to claim their rights. Thus, public awareness of legal rules and their expected consequences (notably, victims' costs and benefits of lodging complaints) is a crucial element of an effective policy strategy to establish a culture of equal treatment. Moreover, legal rules are likely to have more impact if the enforcement is not exclusively dependent on individuals. In this respect, specific agencies may play a key role.

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 2008-07-01

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