Risk and Discrimination

Josh Ederington, Jenny Minier, C. Jill Stowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the traditional Becker model of employer discrimination, discriminatory behavior arises from a utility-maximizing owner who balances firm profits against the disutility of hiring workers from the disadvantaged demographic group. However, in the modern firm, many human resource decisions are made by agents of the owner (managers) whose actions may not reflect the preferences of even profit-maximizing owners. We present a principal-agent model of discrimination with a profit-maximizing owner and a gender-discriminating manager and show that managerial discrimination is increasing with the degree of risk in the firm's revenue stream. Empirical tests using a Colombian plant-level dataset support a prediction of our model that female workers should be under-represented in more revenue volatile firms and industries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20170204
JournalB.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston 2019.


  • gender
  • labor market discrimination
  • principal-agent model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Risk and Discrimination'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this