Why are there civil rights laws? What should their scope and coverage be? What are their weaknesses? How can they be improved? In answering these questions, I concentrate on employment and on race in the United States. Following Sophia Moreau, I argue that civil rights laws are ways of assigning rights that are needed when groups are victims of pervasive discrimination. Empirical economic work shows that blacks and Hispanics probably meet the relevant conditions for coverage under these laws, but whites (at least white males) do not. Civil rights laws are hard to enforce, and should cover as many different domains of life as possible because coverage in each domain is complementary with coverage in others. Existing laws do not seem sufficient to assure blacks and Hispanics of the deliberative freedoms that Moreau enunciates, and so I speculate on alternative approaches.
Michael S. McPherson and Debra Satz
The fact that labor markets have endogenous effects, that labor contracts are incomplete, and that workers and owners have some conflicting interests, distinguishes them from other types of markets such as markets in wheat or gadgets. In this chapter, we explore the consequences of the special nature of labor markets for three specific issues: unemployment, the rise of the gig economy, and the nature and organization of work in a just society. Each of these issues involves the complex interplay of economic considerations with ethics, which implicate considerations such as freedom and coercion, inequality and fairness, and efficiency and productivity.
Olga Shurchkov and Catherine C. Eckel
Despite a policy push toward equality, substantial gender gaps in earnings and vertical gender segregation persist in the labor market. Studies point to gender-specific occupational sorting as one of the primary explanatory factors. But why do men and women sort into different careers? In this chapter, we document the evidence that suggests that gender differences along four behavioral traits may offer a plausible explanation. Specifically, the consensus in the literature is that women, on average, exhibit greater risk aversion, lower levels of competitiveness, and less desire to negotiate as compared to men. Gender differences in social preferences are less robust, but women appear to be more sensitive to social context and framing. Importantly, there is no conclusive evidence on whether these differences are inherent or societal for any of the individual traits, although most studies point to the latter.
Inas R. Kelly and John Komlos
The Oxford Handbook of Economics and Human Biology introduces the scholarly community to the relationship between economic processes and human biology. A society’s biological well-being is important if one is to understand numerous aspects of political and economic developments: the outbreak of revolutions; the effect of industrialization and modernization on a population’s well-being; the demographic transition; and changes in the degree of social inequality by gender, social class, and geographic location. The contributions in this Handbook examine the various ways the economy affects human biological outcomes and, reciprocally, the impact of the latter on the former both over time and cross-sectionally. Another focus is on biological measures as inputs, such as how height and weight affect labor market outcomes and the role of genetic markers on economic variables. A third purpose is to introduce the reader to developmental aspects and policy, particularly correlates of malnutrition and poverty across the world.
Shainaz Firfiray, Martin Larraza-Kintana, and Luis R. Gómez-Mejía
This chapter analyzes the relationship between family control of the firm and its labor productivity. It builds upon the socioemotional wealth (SEW) perspective of family firms to develop a set of propositions that connect SEW priorities, trust, leadership style, nonfamily managers, and the implementation of high performance work practices with labor productivity. The authors argue that SEW priorities warrant adoption of a set of policies and behaviors among the controlling family managers that shape the behaviors and attitudes of the workforce, and these in turn affect labor productivity. This model helps explain observed differences in labor productivity between family and nonfamily firms across different firm sizes, as well as differences in labor productivity among family firms.
Jason A. Aimone and Daniel Houser
This chapter describes the major tools, methods, and areas of study in neuroeconomics, a young but flourishing multidisciplinary field of economics that investigates the genetic, structural, and functional mechanisms underlying behavioral differences that lead to heterogeneity in economic choices. The main objective of neuroeconomics is to better understand how neural activity results in an emergent cognitive capacity for economic behavior and to identify the biological foundation of human social and economic decision making. The chapter first considers the methods used in the field to study how the human brain functions to influence economic choices, followed by a discussion of neuroeconomics tools such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalography, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and chemical manipulations. It then turns to the application of neuroeconomics in the study of social exchange in environments involving trust and betrayal.
Evelyn L. Lehrer
This article explores the role of religion in human capital investments and the family in the United States, based on analyses of microlevel data. The economic perspective views an individual's religious affiliation as affecting economic and demographic behavior because the norms and teachings of various faiths influence the perceived benefits and costs of numerous decisions that people make over the life cycle, including choices regarding the pursuit of investments in secular human capital, cohabitation, marriage, divorce, family size, and employment. These decisions are closely interrelated, so when religious teachings directly influence any one of them, all others are indirectly affected. Consistent with existing structures of perceived benefits and costs, several religious groups in the United States exhibit patterns of economic and demographic behavior that differ significantly from those of mainline Protestants. A higher level of religious participation can affect economic and demographic behavior by accentuating the effects of affiliation. The article also examines patterns of non-marital sex and divorce among conservative Protestants and discusses the role of religion in the second demographic transition in the United States.
Francine D. Blau and Anne E. Winkler
This chapter focuses on women, work, and family, with a particular focus on differences by educational attainment. First, we review long-term trends regarding family structure, participation in the labor market, and time spent in household production, including time with children. In looking at family, we focus on mothers with children. Next we examine key challenges faced by mothers as they seek to combine motherhood and paid work: workforce interruptions associated with childbearing, the impact of home and family responsibilities, and constraints posed by workplace culture. We also consider the role that gendered norms play in shaping outcomes for mothers. We conclude by discussing policies that have the potential to increase gender equality in the workplace and mitigate the considerable conflicts faced by many women as they seek to balance work and family.