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Do Field Experiments on Labor and Housing Markets Overstate Discrimination? A Re-examination of the Evidence

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  • David Neumark
  • Judith Rich

Abstract

Since 2000, more than 80 field experiments across 23 countries consider the traditional dimensions of discrimination in labor and housing markets—such as discrimination based on race. These studies nearly always find evidence of discrimination against minorities. The estimates of discrimination in these studies can be biased, however, if there is differential variation in the unobservable determinants of productivity or in the quality of majority and minority groups. It is possible that this experimental literature as a whole overstates the evidence of discrimination. The authors re-assess the evidence from the 10 existing studies of discrimination that have sufficient information to correct for this bias. For the housing market studies, the estimated effect of discrimination is robust to this correction. For the labor market studies, by contrast, the evidence is less robust, as just over half of the estimates of discrimination fall to near zero, become statistically insignificant, or change sign.

Suggested Citation

  • David Neumark & Judith Rich, 2019. "Do Field Experiments on Labor and Housing Markets Overstate Discrimination? A Re-examination of the Evidence," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 72(1), pages 223-252, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ilrrev:v:72:y:2019:i:1:p:223-252
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    Cited by:

    1. Berson, Clémence & Laouénan, Morgane & Valat, Emmanuel, 2020. "Outsourcing recruitment as a solution to prevent discrimination: A correspondence study," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    2. Becker, Sascha O. & Fernandes, Ana & Weichselbaumer, Doris, 2019. "Discrimination in hiring based on potential and realized fertility: Evidence from a large-scale field experiment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 139-152.
    3. Horváth Gergely, 2020. "The Impact of Marital Status on Job Finding: A Field Experiment in the Chinese Labor Market," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 20(4), pages 1-10, October.
    4. Acolin, Arthur & Bostic, Raphael & Painter, Gary, 2016. "A field study of rental market discrimination across origins in France," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 49-63.
    5. Drydakis, Nick & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2020. "Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Labour Market Outcomes: New Patterns and Insights," GLO Discussion Paper Series 627, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    6. Gouveia, Filipe & Nilsson, Therese & Berggren, Niclas, 2020. "Religiosity and discrimination against same-sex couples: The case of Portugal's rental market," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C).
    7. Kübler, Dorothea & Schmid, Julia & Stüber, Robert, 2018. "Gender discrimination in hiring across occupations: a nationally-representative vignette study," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 215-229.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    discrimination; field experiments; bias; minorities; hiring;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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