Economic pluralism in the study of wage discrimination: a note

Nick Drydakis (Department of Economics and International Business, Centre for Pluralist Economics, Lord Ashcroft International Business School, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK) (Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn, Germany)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Publication date: 2 July 2018



Economic pluralism proposes that economists and social planners should consider alternative theories to establish a range of policy actions. Neoclassical, Feminist and Marxian theories evaluate well-grounded causes of wage discrimination. However, a reluctance to consider less-dominant theories among different schools of economic thought restricts analysis and proposed policies, resulting in a monism method. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


The authors provide a brief review of the theoretical literature on wage discrimination. The significance of a pluralistic analysis is demonstrated by addressing correspondence test patterns of wage discrimination.


In considering Neoclassical, Feminist and Marxian theories, racist attitudes, uncertainties regarding minority workers’ productivity and power relations in lower-status sectors might generate discriminatory wages. Each cause deserves corresponding policy action.

Research limitations/implications

Time is needed to provide a pluralistic evaluation of wage discrimination. In addition, pluralism requires rigorous investigations to avoid incoherencies. Pluralism might be jeopardised if there is a limited desire to engage with less-dominant theoretical frameworks. Also, pluralism might be misled with rejection of dominant theories.

Practical implications

Given pluralism, wage discrimination might be reduced by implementing equality campaigns, creating low-cost tests to predict workers’ productivity and abolishing power relations towards minority workers.


Little work has been on economic pluralism in the study of wage discrimination. The current study addresses the gap in the literature.



Drydakis, N. (2018), "Economic pluralism in the study of wage discrimination: a note", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 631-636.



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