Economics has a history of discrimination and, in some cases, outright racism. George Stigler, a Nobel laureate and an early leader of the American Economic Association, criticized the civil rights movement in 1962 and wrote that African-Americans’ disadvantages in the labor market stemmed in part from their “inferiority as a worker.”
“Lacking education, lacking a tenacity of purpose, lacking a willingness to work hard, he will not be an object of employers’ competition,” he wrote.
Few scholars today would use such language. But the ideas persist: Economics journals are still filled with papers that emphasize differences in education, upbringing or even IQ rather than discrimination or structural barriers.