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Hiring discrimination : a field experiment in the French financial sector

Using correspondence testing, we investigate whether gender access gap in job interviews is due to different effects of present or future family responsibilities on expected productivity of male and female job applicants or if it is due to a taste for discrimination. We have sent job applications of three pairs of candidates to the same job advertisements in the French financial sector. Using three pairs of applicants, we compare the effect on the gender access gap to job interviews of a high probability of maternity/paternity (1) ; high family responsibilities (2) ; neither risk of maternity or family responsibility (3). Within each pair, the applicants' characteristics are similar except for their gender. We find significant discrimination against women with a high probability of maternity for highly qualified administrative jobs. In the other cases, unequal treatment between genders is not significant. So, controlling for female probability of maternity, we find no significant unequal treatment between genders. We conclude that female employment suffers more from their probability of maternity (and their anticipated career interruptions) than family responsibilities alone. So, statistical discrimination due to female probability of maternity exists on the French labour market. An appropriate economic policy may correct it by reducing firms' cost due to maternity leave.

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Paper provided by Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1) in its series Cahiers de la Maison des Sciences Economiques with number v04086.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mse:wpsorb:v04086
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  1. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-61, September.
  2. Neumark, David, 1996. "Sex Discrimination in Restaurant Hiring: An Audit Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 915-41, August.
  3. James J. Heckman, 1998. "Detecting Discrimination," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 101-116, Spring.
  4. Sylvie Le Minez & Sébastien Roux, 2002. "Les différences de carrières salariales à partir du premier emploi," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 351(1), pages 31-63.
  5. 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.
  6. Weichselbaumer, Doris, 2003. "Sexual orientation discrimination in hiring," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(6), pages 629-642, December.
  7. P. A. Riach & J. Rich, 2002. "Field Experiments of Discrimination in the Market Place," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 480-518, November.
  8. Albrecht, James & Björklund, Anders & Vroman, Susan, 2001. "Is There a Glass Ceiling in Sweden?," IZA Discussion Papers 282, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Francois, Patrick, 1998. "Gender discrimination without gender difference: theory and policy responses," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 1-32, April.
  10. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn C, 1993. "Will Affirmative-Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1220-40, December.
  11. Dominique Meurs & Sophie Ponthieux, 2000. "Une mesure de la discrimination dans l'écart de salaire entre hommes et femmes," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 337(1), pages 135-158.
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