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Sexual orientation discrimination in hiring

  • Doris Weichselbaumer

Little research has been done to examine discrimination against gays and lesbians in the labor market. Wage regressions have documented lower incomes for gays but repeatedly showed higher incomes for lesbians. The results concerning lesbian women are striking but can be reconciled with the existence of labor market discrimination, however. Problems like sample selection and unobserved heterogeneity-in particular, lesbians' violation of stereotypical female gender roles- might be responsible for their higher earnings. To investigate whether discrimination against lesbians actually does exist, a labor market experiment is conducted. Job applications of candidates, who are equivalent in their human capital but differ in their sexual orientation, are sent out in response to job advertisements. Furthermore, to test whether increased masculinity affects labor market outcomes, the applicants differ in their perceived gender identity. While results show a strong negative effect for lesbian orientation, gender identity does not have a significant overall impact on hiring chances.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Natural Field Experiments with number 00340.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00340
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  1. Biddle, Jeff E & Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1998. "Beauty, Productivity, and Discrimination: Lawyers' Looks and Lucre," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 172-201, January.
  2. Dan Black & Gary Gates & Seth Sanders & Lowell Taylor, 2000. "Demographics of the gay and lesbian population in the United States: Evidence from available systematic data sources," Demography, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 139-154, May.
  3. Michael Firth, 1981. "Racial discrimination in the British labor market," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 34(2), pages 265-272, January.
  4. Jeffrey S. Gray, 1997. "The Fall in Men's Return to Marriage: Declining Productivity Effects or Changing Selection?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 481-504.
  5. M. V. Lee Badgett, 1995. "The Wage Effects of Sexual Orientation Discrimination," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(4), pages 726-739, July.
  6. Jerry M. Newman, 1978. "Discrimination in recruitment: An empirical analysis," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 32(1), pages 15-23, October.
  7. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-61, September.
  8. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jeff E. Biddle, 1993. "Beauty and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. James J. Heckman, 1998. "Detecting Discrimination," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 101-116, Spring.
  10. John M. Blandford, 2003. "The nexus of sexual orientation and gender in the determination of earnings," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(4), pages 622-642, July.
  11. John M. Blandford, . "Evidence of the Role of Sexual Orientation in the Determination of Earnings Outcomes," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 2000-01, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  12. Riach, Peter A & Rich, Judith, 1991. "Testing for Racial Discrimination in the Labour Market," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 239-56, September.
  13. M. V. Lee Badgett, 1995. "The wage effects of sexual orientation discrimination," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(4), pages 726-739, July.
  14. Peter A. Riach & Judith Rich, 1995. "An Investigation of Gender Discrimination in Labor Hiring," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 343-356, Summer.
  15. Susan Averett & Sanders Korenman, 1996. "The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(2), pages 304-330.
  16. Suzanne Heller Clain & Karen Leppel, 2001. "An investigation into sexual orientation discrimination as an explanation for wage differences," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(1), pages 37-47.
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