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Do Employers Use Unemployment as a Sorting Criterion When Hiring? Evidence from a Field Experiment

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  • Stefan Eriksson
  • Dan-Olof Rooth

Abstract

The stigma associated with long-term unemployment spells could create large inefficiencies in labor markets. While the existing literature points toward large stigma effects, it has proven difficult to estimate causal relationships. Using data from a field experiment, we find that long-term unemployment spells in the past do not matter for employers' hiring decisions, suggesting that subsequent work experience eliminate this negative signal. Nor do employers treat contemporary short-term unemployment spells differently, suggesting that they understand that worker/firm matching takes time. However, employers attach a negative value to contemporary unemployment spells lasting at least nine months, providing evidence of stigma effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Eriksson & Dan-Olof Rooth, 2014. "Do Employers Use Unemployment as a Sorting Criterion When Hiring? Evidence from a Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 1014-1039, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:104:y:2014:i:3:p:1014-39
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.3.1014
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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