Availability and Disparity Studies At A Glance

Capabilities and Services

Throughout the past decade, disparity studies have been sought after as the preferred method of gathering statistical and anecdotal evidence of discrimination against disadvantaged, minority-owned, and woman-owned business enterprises (D/M/WBEs) for use in litigation, to stave off potential challenges to programs, or in advance of any new legislation enacting such a program. However, although significant public resources have been expended on such studies since the City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. decision, the results frequently have been rejected by courts as legally inadequate, statistically unsound, or politically motivated. These courtroom rejections underscore not only the increasingly rigorous legal standards to which statistical evidence is being held, but also the risk of using a supporting expert with limited qualifications. In the event of a legal challenge, disparity studies -- and the credentials of those behind them -- are subject to a level of intense scrutiny for which many consultants are ill prepared.

Economists are uniquely qualified to determine the presence and quantify the impact of race and gender discrimination affecting D/M/WBEs in product and geographic markets. In fact, economists pioneered these types of analyses in the context of wage and salary employment. NERA economists have translated these analyses into the context of entrepreneurship and self-employment. We are the only consultants in the field who have been qualified as experts in federal and state courts on multiple occasions. Our objective, high-quality studies help clients to implement and defend their supplier diversity initiatives. We frequently work with clients to mount legal defenses based upon our studies and have extensive experience conducting periodic,proactive reviews to anticipate potential challenges. We are also frequently retained to critique -- and, in some cases, completely redo -- the work of other consultants.