It Seemed Like a Good Idea

This one falls into the category of papers that are uncomfortable, but important.

State Age Protection Laws and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
Joanna Lahey
Some anti-discrimination laws have the perverse effect of harming the very class they were meant to protect. This paper provides evidence that age discrimination laws belong to this perverse class. Prior to the enforcement of the federal law, state laws had little effect on older workers, suggesting that firms either knew little about these laws or did not see them as a threat. After the enforcement of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in 1979, white male workers over the age of 50 in states with age discrimination laws worked between 1 and 1.5 fewer weeks per year than workers in states without laws. These men are also .3 percentage points more likely to be retired and .2 percentage points less likely to be hired. These findings suggest that in an anti-age discrimination environment, firms seek to avoid litigation through means not intended by the legislation — by not employing older workers in the first place.

Kinda like Acemoglu and Angrist’s findings in the JPE a couple of years ago

Consequences of Employment Protection? The Case of the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to accommodate disabled workers and outlaws discrimination against the disabled in hiring, firing, and pay. Although the ADA was meant to increase the employment of the disabled, the net theoretical effects are ambiguous. For men of all working ages and women under 40, Current Population Survey data show a sharp drop in the employment of disabled workers after the ADA went into effect. Although the number of disabled individuals receiving disability transfers increased at the same time, the decline in employment of the disabled does not appear to be explained by increasing transfers alone, leaving the ADA as a likely cause. Consistent with this view, the effects of the ADA appear larger in medium-size firms, possibly because small firms were exempt from the ADA. The effects are also larger in states with more ADA-related discrimination charges.

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