Racial prejudice and labour market penalties during economic downturns

David W. Johnston, Grace Lordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Do economic downturns encourage racist attitudes? Does this in-turn lead to worse labour market outcome for minorities? We assess these important questions using British attitude and labour force data. The attitude data show that racial prejudice is counter cyclical, with the effect driven by large increases for high-skilled middle-aged working men - a 1%-point increase in unemployment is estimated to increase self-reported racial prejudice by 4%-points. Correspondingly, the labour force data show that racial employment and wage gaps are counter-cyclical, with the largest effects also observed for high-skilled men, especially in the manufacturing and construction industries - a 1%-point increase in unemployment is estimated to increase the wage gap by 3%. These results are entirely consistent with the theoretical literature, which proposes that racial prejudice and discrimination are the result of labour market competition among individuals with similar traits, and that the effects of this competition are exacerbated during periods of economic downturn.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-75
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Economic Review
Volume84
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016

Keywords

  • Prejudice
  • Recessions
  • Racism
  • Discrimination

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