What theories predict about the effectiveness of anti-discrimination measures


The applicability of policy measures to tackle empolyment discrimination may depend largely on the underlying factors of discriminatory practices.

Áron Hajnal and Ágota Scharle recently published their article titled „What works for whom? What theories may predict about the effectiveness of measures against employment discrimination” in the International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy (the published article can be found here; the accepted manuscript is available here) .

The article seeks to bridge the literature on the theories of discrimination and research about policy measures to curb employment discrimination. The authors identify five theories (and related discrimination types) and eight potential policy measures and match them based on the underlying incentive structure of particular policies, and the behaviour of employers predicted by particular theories.

The authors find that the potential effectiveness of commonly used anti-discrimination policies varies greatly depending on the source of discrimination and the target group. Some commonly used tools, such as wage subsidies are likely to have modest effects for several target groups, while employer counselling may be a more effective and cheaper alternative in many cases. Quotas may be effective against various types of discrimination but setting them is challenging and they may yield adverse effects.

The findings call for more research on and consideration of the motives behind employment discrimination in the targeting and design of anti-discrimination measures.