Job Discrimination, Market Forces and the Invisibility Hypothesis


Publication Date: June 1984

Revision Date: June 1985

Pages: 42


The Invisibility Hypothesis holds that the job skills of disadvantaged workers are not easily discovered by potential new employers, but that promotion enhances visibility and alleviates this problem. Then, at a competitive labor market equilibrium, firms profit by hiding talented disadvantaged workers in low level jobs. Consequently, those workers are paid less on average and promoted less often than others with the same education and ability. As a result of the inefficient and discriminatory wage and promotion policies, disadvantaged workers experience lower returns to investments in human capital than other workers.


Discrimination, Human capital, Job discriminiation, Labor markets, visibility


Published in Quarterly Journal of Economics (August 1987), 102(3): 453-476 [jstor]