To "ban the box'' refers to not asking a job applicant whether the applicant has a criminal record. We examine a model of labor market discrimination and consider the impacts of barring employers from conditioning on some potentially relevant information about applicants (i.e., ``banning the box''). By incorporating the applicants' decisions to become "qualified" for the job as a strategic decision, we show that banning the box can have ambiguous effects on both the rates of qualification by, and employment of, applicants, as well as social welfare. Considering the impacts on these three dimensions illustrates the potential for banning the box to be strictly Pareto efficient in some cases, Pareto inefficient in others, and generate political conflict in yet other situations. The model demonstrates linkages between the wage level (and wage-setting power) and the presence of the box. Finally, in the presence of heterogeneous employers, the presence or absence of the box has spillover effects that can create further political conflict.
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