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Ethnicity and Labour Market Disparity - Essay Example

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Ethnicity and Labour Market Disparity

Unfortunately, as this issue has increasingly come under the scrutiny of lawmakers and the public, instead of finding ways to educate and increase tolerance for our differences, "subtle, less visible and more insidious forms" ("Discrimination at work" 2003) of discrimination have surfaced. Although instances of blatant acts of discrimination still occurring, the more discreet forms of discrimination make it all the more difficult to detect, substantiate, remedy and eliminate.
As the world 'shrinks' with the ever increasing mobility of people, more and more frequently we find ourselves encountering people with rich, diverse cultures and backgrounds unfamiliar to us. It is the responsibility of each of us, personally and collectively as a country, to ensure that every person is afforded the same opportunities and rights we all enjoy. In this paper, the issue of racial and ethnic discrimination will be explored as well as the additional challenges faced by immigrant minorities.
All too often racial and ethnic discrimination occurs in the workplace. Through stereotyping people based on race or culture frequently immigrant minorities face, in addition to becoming acclimated to a new culture and environment, the additional challenge of a distinct disadvantage in the labour market sector. Often unable to find sustainable employment, many immigrants find themselves being led towards jobs that tend to be low paying positions, often with minimal benefits. Additionally, employment of this type tends to be unstable and insecure as union organisation is rarely found in this sector. This further places burden on those employed. Also, within the ethnic and racial immigrant minorities there are further levels of disparity which will be examined and discussed. However, before analysing the empirical evidence, an examination of the theoretical issues surrounding this disparity will be addressed.
Economic Theory
Before beginning to discuss discrimination in the work place, it is important to understand what it is and what it entails. First, however, it needs to be defined. Economist Kenneth Arrow defines labour market discrimination as "the valuation in the market place of personal characteristics of the worker that are unrelated to productivity" ("Discrimination in labour" 2005). In other words, labour market discrimination is the importance we place on physical appearance, ethnicity, and a host of other attributes that have no bearing on the individual's ability to perform the specific job and how that influences hiring practices and treatment of employees in the workforce.
There are a variety of theories as to why discrimination in the labour market exists. One of the most interesting comes from economist Gary Becker who in his book Accounting for Tastes offered a unique theory that combines economics with the social science to arrive at his hypothesis. According to Becker people arrive at preconceived ideas based on an internal mechanism that causes them to place value on people, not based on their actions or abilities, but rather on how they are perceived to be. Outward appearance and personal taste on how some feel other groups of people are or should be sets the course for discrimination. Based on ...Show more
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Summary

Discrimination in the work place is a sad reality. Too often capable applicants are not considered for employment merely because of their gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or a host of other factors. Although governments can dictate via law that discrimination is illegal, but that alone will not help solve the problem…
Ethnicity and Labour Market Disparity
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