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Artifactual Evidence of Discrimination in Correspondence Studies? A Replication of the Neumark Method

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  • Carlsson, Magnus

    (Linnaeus University)

  • Fumarco, Luca

    (Masaryk University)

  • Rooth, Dan-Olof

    (Stockholm University)

Abstract

The advocates of correspondence testing (CT) argue that it provide the most clear and convincing evidence of discrimination. The common view is that the standard CT can identify what is typically defined as discrimination in a legal sense – what we label total discrimination in the current study –, although it cannot separate between preferences and statistical discrimination. However, Heckman and Siegelman (1993) convincingly show that audit and correspondence studies can obtain biased estimates of total discrimination – in any direction – if employers evaluate applications according to some threshold level of productivity. This issue has essentially been ignored in the empirical literature on CT experiments until the appearance of the methodology proposed by Neumark (2012). He shows that with the right data and an identifying assumption, with testable predictions, this method can identify total discrimination. In the current paper we use this new method to reexamine a number of already published correspondence studies to investigate if their estimate of total discrimination is affected by group differences in variances of unobservable characteristics. We also aim at improving the general understanding of to what extent the standardization level of job applications is an issue in empirical work. We find that the standardization level of the job applications being set by the experimenter appear to be a general issue in correspondence studies which must be taken seriously.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlsson, Magnus & Fumarco, Luca & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2013. "Artifactual Evidence of Discrimination in Correspondence Studies? A Replication of the Neumark Method," IZA Discussion Papers 7619, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7619
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Berson, Clémence & Laouénan, Morgane & Valat, Emmanuel, 2020. "Outsourcing recruitment as a solution to prevent discrimination: A correspondence study," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    3. 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 of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. David Neumark, 2018. "Experimental Research on Labor Market Discrimination," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(3), pages 799-866, September.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    discrimination; correspondence studies;

    JEL classification:

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

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