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Discrimination and the Effects of Drug Testing on Black Employment


  • Wozniak, Abigail

    () (University of Notre Dame)


Nearly half of U.S. employers test job applicants and workers for drugs. I use variation in the timing and nature of drug testing regulation to study discrimination against blacks related to perceived drug use. Black employment in the testing sector is suppressed in the absence of testing, consistent with ex ante discrimination on the basis of drug use perceptions. Adoption of pro-testing legislation increases black employment in the testing sector by 7-30% and relative wages by 1.4-13.0%, with the largest shifts among low skilled black men. Results suggest that employers substitute white women for blacks in the absence of testing.

Suggested Citation

  • Wozniak, Abigail, 2012. "Discrimination and the Effects of Drug Testing on Black Employment," IZA Discussion Papers 6605, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6605

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

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    1. Drug testing and discrimination
      by Eric Crampton in Offsetting Behaviour on 2014-05-21 04:17:00


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    1. repec:aea:aejapp:v:9:y:2017:i:3:p:152-90 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Jennifer L. Doleac & Benjamin Hansen, 2016. "Does “Ban the Box” Help or Hurt Low-Skilled Workers? Statistical Discrimination and Employment Outcomes When Criminal Histories are Hidden," NBER Working Papers 22469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Dobkin, Carlos & Nicosia, Nancy & Weinberg, Matthew, 2014. "Are supply-side drug control efforts effective? Evaluating OTC regulations targeting methamphetamine precursors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 48-61.
    4. Clifford, Robert & Shoag, Daniel, 2016. ""No More Credit Score": Emplyer Credit Check Bans and Signal Substitution," Working Paper Series 16-008, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    5. Sabia, Joseph J. & Nguyen, Thanh Tam, 2016. "The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Labor Market Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 9831, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Rich, Judy, 2014. "What Do Field Experiments of Discrimination in Markets Tell Us? A Meta Analysis of Studies Conducted since 2000," IZA Discussion Papers 8584, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Clifford, Robert & Shoag, Daniel, 2016. "“No more credit score”: employer credit check bans and signal substitution," Working Papers 16-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

    More about this item


    labor market outcome disparities; employer drug testing; discrimination; black employment;

    JEL classification:

    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • K2 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law
    • K3 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law
    • M5 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics

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