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Racial Discrimination in the Labor Market for Recent College Graduates: Evidence from a Field Experiment

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  • Nunley John M.

    (Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, La Crosse, WI 54601, USA)

  • Pugh Adam

    (CUNA Mutual Group, Madison, WI 53705, USA)

  • Romero Nicholas

    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA)

  • Seals R. Alan

    (Department of Economics, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849-5049, USA)

Abstract

We present experimental evidence from a correspondence test of racial discrimination in the labor market for recent college graduates. We find strong evidence of differential treatment by race: black applicants receive approximately 14% fewer interview requests than their otherwise identical white counterparts. The racial gap in employment opportunities is larger when comparisons are made between job seekers with credentials that proxy for expected productivity and/or match quality. Moreover, the racial discrimination detected is driven by greater discrimination in jobs that require customer interaction. Various tests for the type of discrimination tend to support taste-based discrimination, but we are unable to rule out risk aversion on the part of employers as a possible explanation.

Suggested Citation

  • Nunley John M. & Pugh Adam & Romero Nicholas & Seals R. Alan, 2015. "Racial Discrimination in the Labor Market for Recent College Graduates: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 15(3), pages 1093-1125, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:15:y:2015:i:3:p:1093-1125:n:11
    DOI: 10.1515/bejeap-2014-0082
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Bruno Decreuse & Morgane Laouénan & Alain Trannoy, 2016. "Customer Discrimination and Employment Outcomes: Theory and Evidence from the French Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 107-160.
    2. Nunley, John M. & Pugh, Adam & Romero, Nicholas & Seals, R. Alan, 2016. "College major, internship experience, and employment opportunities: Estimates from a résumé audit," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 37-46.
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    4. Nunley, John M. & Owens, Mark F. & Howard, R. Stephen, 2011. "The effects of information and competition on racial discrimination: Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 670-679.
    5. Stijn Baert & Bart Cockx & Niels Gheyle & Cora Vandamme, 2013. "Do Employers Discriminate Less if Vacancies are Difficult to Fill? Evidence from a Field Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 4093, CESifo.
    6. Alison L. Booth & Andrew Leigh & Elena Varganova, 2012. "Does Ethnic Discrimination Vary Across Minority Groups? Evidence from a Field Experiment," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 74(4), pages 547-573, August.
    7. John M. Nunley & Adam Pugh & Nicholas Romero & Richard Alan Seals, Jr., 2014. "Unemployment, Underemployment, and Employment Opportunities: Results from a Correspondence Audit of the Labor Market for College Graduates," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series auwp2014-04, Department of Economics, Auburn University.
    8. Michael Ewens & Bryan Tomlin & Liang Choon Wang, 2014. "Statistical Discrimination or Prejudice? A Large Sample Field Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(1), pages 119-134, March.
    9. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Devah Pager & Jörg L. Spenkuch, 2013. "Racial Disparities in Job Finding and Offered Wages," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(3), pages 633-689.
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    Cited by:

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    2. Jaison R. Abel & Richard Deitz, 2017. "Underemployment in the Early Careers of College Graduates following the Great Recession," NBER Chapters, in: Education, Skills, and Technical Change: Implications for Future US GDP Growth, pages 149-181, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Baert, Stijn, 2015. "Hiring a Homosexual, Taking a Risk? A Lab Experiment on Employment Discrimination and Risk Aversion," IZA Discussion Papers 9536, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Gaddis, S. Michael, 2018. "An Introduction to Audit Studies in the Social Sciences," SocArXiv e5hfc, Center for Open Science.
    5. Ian Burn & Patrick Button & Luis Felipe Munguia Corella & David Neumark, 2019. "Older Workers Need Not Apply? Ageist Language in Job Ads and Age Discrimination in Hiring," NBER Working Papers 26552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Button, Patrick & Walker, Brigham, 2020. "Employment discrimination against Indigenous Peoples in the United States: Evidence from a field experiment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    7. Nunley, John M. & Pugh, Adam & Romero, Nicholas & Seals, R. Alan, 2016. "College major, internship experience, and employment opportunities: Estimates from a résumé audit," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 37-46.
    8. John M. Nunley & Adam Pugh & Nicholas Romero & Richard Alan Seals, Jr., 2015. "Unemployment, Underemployment, and Employment Opportunities: Results from a Correspondence Audit," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series auwp2015-13, Department of Economics, Auburn University.
    9. Ali M. Ahmed & Elisabeth Lång, 2017. "The employability of ex-offenders: a field experiment in the Swedish labor market," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 6(1), pages 1-23, December.
    10. Asali, Muhammad & Pignatti, Norberto & Skhirtladze, Sophiko, 2018. "Employment discrimination in a former Soviet Union Republic: Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 1294-1309.
    11. Patrick Kline & Christopher Walters, 2019. "Audits as Evidence: Experiments, Ensembles, and Enforcement," Papers 1907.06622, arXiv.org, revised Jul 2019.
    12. Dionissi Aliprantis & Daniel R. Carroll & Eric R. Young, 2019. "The Dynamics of the Racial Wealth Gap," Working Papers 201918, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    13. Bond, Timothy N. & Lehmann, Jee-Yeon K., 2018. "Prejudice and racial matches in employment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 271-293.
    14. Attakrit Leckcivilize & Alexander Straub, 2018. "Headscarf and job recruitment—lifting the veil of labour market discrimination," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 7(1), pages 1-32, December.
    15. Boyd-Swan, Casey & Herbst, Chris M., 2018. "The demand for teacher characteristics in the market for child care: Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 183-202.
    16. Boyd-Swan, Casey & Herbst, Chris M., 2017. "The Demand for Teacher Characteristics in the Market for Child Care: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 10702, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    17. Baert, Stijn, 2017. "Hiring Discrimination: An Overview of (Almost) All Correspondence Experiments Since 2005," IZA Discussion Papers 10738, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Veit, Susanne & Thijsen, Lex, 2019. "Almost identical but still treated differently: hiring discrimination against foreign-born and domestic-born minorities," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 1285-1304.

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