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The Opportunity Structure for Discrimination1

University of California, BerkeleyTel Aviv University

Gender disparities in wages and attainment caused by employer discrimination can come about by three very different processes: allocative discrimination, within‐job wage discrimination, and valuative discrimination. For the United States, it has been established that within‐job wage discrimination no longer is a major source of wage differences, while valuative discrimination potentially is. Less known is the role of allocative discrimination, especially in the hiring process, which we identify as the point where discrimination is most feasible. Our analysis uses personnel data on all entrants into a large U.S. service organization in the period 1978–86, focusing on managerial, administrative, and professional employees. We study the placement at initial hire and then follow job levels, wages, promotions, as well as departures, in years subsequent to hire.