Racial, ethnic,’ and gend~~ discrimination has. been a pervasive feature of human societies since the beginning of recorded history. At one extreme, seen before the CivilWar in the United States, black slaves were considered property, had virtually no rights, and were often treated harshly. In other times or places, such ‘as in the United States during the segregation period or under apartheid in South Africa until the 1990s, blacks were segregated in housing, consumption, and transportation and faced prohibitions against interracial marriage and the most desirable forms of employment: Even today, in an era
when discrimination is illegal, subtle forms ofinformal, premarket, criminal-justice, and ~t3tistical discrimination continue to lead to disparate outcomes between men and women and particularly among different racial and ethnic groups.

Those who study or experience discrimination know that it extends far beyond the marketplace. Our discussion is limited to economic discrimination, focusing primarily on employment. We want to know why group differences persist decades after discrimination became illegal. We need to understand the sources of the differences between the wages of white males and those of other group’!, Why do African-American and Hispanic citizens in the United States continue to have a measurably lower level of income and wealth than other groups? Why are women excluded from many of the best jobs in business? These are troubling questions. that need answers.

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