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Measuring Discrimination in Education: Are Methodologies From Labor and Markets Useful?


by Harry Holzer & Jens Ludwig — 2003

This paper reviews the methodologies most frequently used by social scientists when measuring discrimination in housing and labor markets and assesses their potential usefulness for analyzing discrimination in education. We begin by briefly reviewing what economists typically mean by racial discrimination in housing and labor markets and note that the standard definition is somewhat more complicated in the case of education. We then review four methodologiesstandard statistical methods (e.g., multiple regression), methods using more complete data (e.g., productivity vs. wages or applications for jobs/housing vs. acceptances), experimental/audit methods, and natural experiments based on actual policy changes. The strengths and weaknesses of the four methods when used on housing and labor markets are assessed. We then consider the extent to which each of the methods can be applied to education and the potential usefulness and limitations of trying to do so. We conclude that each of the four methods has some potential uses in analyzing discrimination in education.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 105 Number 6, 2003, p. 1147-1178
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11551, Date Accessed: 10/18/2017 7:00:37 AM

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About the Author
  • Harry Holzer
    Georgetown University
    E-mail Author
    HARRY J. HOLZER is Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University and Research Fellow at the Urban Institute and previously served as Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor and Professor of Economics at Michigan State University. Over most of his career, Professor Holzer’s research has focused on the low-wage labor market and particularly the problem of minority workers in urban areas. His recent books include Detroit Divided: Racial Inequality in Housing and Labor Markets (with Reynolds Farley and Sheldon Danziger) and What Employers Want: Job Prospects for Less-Educated Workers.
  • Jens Ludwig
    Georgetown University
    E-mail Author
    JENS LUDWIG is Associate Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University and formerly a visiting scholar at the Northwestern University/ University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research and the Brookings Institution. Ludwig’s research focuses on social policies targeted at urban problems, such as crime and educational failure. His publications include ‘‘Weighing the ‘Burden of Acting White’: Are There Race Differences in Attitudes Towards Education?’’ (with Philip Cook, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management) and ‘‘Urban Poverty and Educational Outcomes’’ (with Helen Ladd and Greg Duncan, Brookings-Wharton Papers on Urban Affairs).
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