Oppositional identities and the labor market

Harminder Battu, McDonald Mwale, Yves Zenou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


We develop a model in which nonwhite individuals are defined with
respect to their social environment (family, friends, and neighbors) and their
attachments to their culture of origin (religion or language), and in which jobs are
mainly found through social networks. We find that depending on how strong peer
pressures are, nonwhites choose to adopt “oppositional” identities because some
individuals may identify with the dominant culture and others may reject that
culture, even if it implies adverse labor market outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-667
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Population Economics
Issue number3
Early online date20 Oct 2006
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


  • ethnic minorities
  • identity
  • social networks
  • White's norm
  • multiple equilibria


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