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Does Ethnic Discrimination Vary Across Minority Groups? Evidence from a Field Experiment

  • Alison L. Booth
  • Andrew Leigh
  • Elena Varganova

We conduct a large-scale audit discrimination study to measure labor market discrimination across different minority groups in Australia – a country where one quarter of the population was born overseas. To denote ethnicity, we use distinctively Anglo-Saxon, Indigenous, Italian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern names, and our goal is a comparison across multiple ethnic groups rather than focusing on a single minority as in most other studies. In all cases, we applied for entry-level jobs and submitted a CV showing that the candidate had attended high school in Australia. We find economically and statistically significant differences in callback rates, suggesting that ethnic minority candidates would need to apply for more jobs in order to receive the same number of interviews. These differences vary systematically across groups, with Italians (a more established migrant group) suffering less discrimination than Chinese and Middle Easterners (who have typically arrived more recently). We also explore various explanations for our empirical findings.

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Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Oxford in its journal Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 74 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (08)
Pages: 547-573

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Handle: RePEc:bla:obuest:v:74:y:2012:i:4:p:547-573
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  1. Judith Rich & Peter Riach, 1991. "Testing for racial discrimination in the labour market," Natural Field Experiments 00327, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. St�Phane Mahuteau & P.N. (Raja) Junankar, 2008. "Do Migrants get Good Jobs in Australia? The Role of Ethnic Networks in Job Search," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 84(s1), pages S115-S130, 09.
  3. Booth, Alison & Leigh, Andrew, 2010. "Do employers discriminate by gender? A field experiment in female-dominated occupations," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 236-238, May.
  4. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A., 2002. "Public Policy and the Labor Market Adjustment of New Immigrants to Australia," IZA Discussion Papers 620, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Carlsson, Magnus & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2007. "Evidence of ethnic discrimination in the Swedish labor market using experimental data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 716-729, August.
  6. Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2007. "Implicit Discrimination in Hiring: Real World Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2764, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Peter A. Riach & Judith Rich, 2004. "Deceptive Field Experiments of Discrimination: Are they Ethical?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 457-470, 08.
  8. Philip Oreopoulos, 2009. "Why Do Skilled Immigrants Struggle in the Labor Market? A Field Experiment with Six Thousand Resumes," NBER Working Papers 15036, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Judith Rich & Peter Riach, 2002. "Field experiments of discrimination in the market place," Natural Field Experiments 00328, The Field Experiments Website.
  10. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1998. "What Has Economics to Say about Racial Discrimination?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 91-100, Spring.
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