Two Great Articles in the December JEL

Journal of Economic Literature, December 2012

Two great articles.

Racial Discrimination in the Labor Market: Theory and Empirics

Kevin Lang and Jee-Yeon K. Lehmann

We review theories of race discrimination in the labor market. Taste-based models can generate wage and unemployment duration differentials when combined with either random or directed search even when strong prejudice is not widespread, but no existing model explains the unemployment rate differential. Models of statistical discrimination based on differential observability of productivity across races can explain the pattern and magnitudes of wage differentials but do not address employment and unemployment. At their current state of development, models of statistical discrimination based on rational stereotypes have little empirical content. It is plausible that models combining elements of the search models with statistical discrimination could fit the data. We suggest possible avenues to be pursued and comment briefly on the implication of existing theory for public policy. (JEL J15, J31, J64, J71)
Wonderful synthesis from Kevin and Lehmann, a recent BU Ph.D. alum.

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Psychologists at the Gate: A Review of Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow

Andrei Shleifer

The publication of Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, is a major intellectual event. The book summarizes, but also integrates, the research that Kahneman has done over the past forty years, beginning with his path-breaking work with the late Amos Tversky. The broad theme of this research is that human beings are intuitive thinkers and that human intuition is imperfect, with the result that judgments and choices often deviate substantially from the predictions of normative statistical and economic models. In this review, I discuss some broad ideas and themes of the book, describe some economic applications, and suggest future directions for research that the book points to, especially in decision theory. (JEL A12, D03, D80, D87) 

Nice short summary of key themes from the extraordinary Kahneman book.

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