Difference as Proxy for Risk: Between Antidiscrimination and Actuarial Logics

Deborah Dinner, LAPA Fellow; Emory University School of Law

Fri, 04/09/2021 - 10:30am
via Zoom - RSVP requested
Event Category: 
By Invitation Only

LAPA’s seminar format assumes that seminar participants have familiarized themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator opens the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. 

From Deborah: "Federal civil rights law prohibits sex discrimination in employment, education, and housing, but not insurance. The historical, theoretical, and policy implications of this omission are underexplored. This paper is among the first to examine the legal history of debates about sex discrimination in insurance, focusing on how legal thinkers and actors navigated tensions between antidiscrimination and actuarial logics in the 1970s and 1980s. Drawing on archival, doctrinal, and legislative sources, it analyzes feminist advocacy to end the use of sex in insurance rating as well as judicial and political responses. These conflicts provide insight into the non-linear character of progress toward gender equity, tensions between individual and group theories of equality, the role insurance plays in the construction of sex difference, and the undermining of public values in private insurance."

Deborah Dinner
2020-2021 LAPA Fellow
Emory University School of Law

Deborah Dinner is a legal and intellectual historian of work, gender, capitalism, and the welfare state in the twentieth-century United States. Her scholarship analyzes the interaction between social movements, legal and economic thought, political culture, and legal change. She is the author of The Sex Equality Dilemma: Work, Family, and Legal Change in Neoliberal (forthcoming 2021). She has published numerous articles exploring feminist legal activism, masculinity and divorce law, and the relationship between antidiscrimination law and protective labor standards. Her teaching interests include employment discrimination, employment law, family law, legal history, and property. She received her J.D. and Ph.D. in History from Yale University and clerked for Judge Karen Nelson Moore of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. At LAPA, she will work on her current book project, A Nation at Risk: Private Insurance and the Law in Modern America. This project examines how ideas about gender, race, and ethnicity shaped insurance practices, the tension between antidiscrimination principles and actuarial logic, and the role of private insurance in social welfare provisioning.