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Employers' Preferences for Gender, Age, Height and Beauty: Direct Evidence

  • Peter Kuhn
  • Kailing Shen

We study firms' advertised preferences for gender, age, height and beauty in a sample of ads from a Chinese internet job board, and interpret these patterns using a simple employer search model. We find that these characteristics are widely and highly valued by Chinese employers, though employers' valuations are highly specific to detailed jobs and occupations. Consistent with our model, advertised preferences for gender, age, height and beauty all become less prevalent as job skill requirements rise. Cross-sectional patterns suggest some role for customer discrimination, product market competition, and corporate culture. Using the recent collapse of China's labor market as a natural experiment, we find that firms' advertised education and experience requirements respond to changing labor market conditions in the direction predicted by our model, while firms' advertised preferences for age, gender, height and beauty do not.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15564.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15564
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  1. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jeff E. Biddle, 1993. "Beauty and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  3. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2003. "Are emily and greg more employable than lakisha and jamal? A field experiment on labor market discrimination," Natural Field Experiments 00216, The Field Experiments Website.
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  7. Guido Menzio, 2007. "A Theory of Partially Directed Search," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(5), pages 748-769, October.
  8. William A. Darity & Patrick L. Mason, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Employment: Codes of Color, Codes of Gender," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 63-90, Spring.
  9. van Ours, J.C. & Ridder, G., 1993. "Vacancy durations : Search or selection?," Other publications TiSEM 77fcbc19-cfa8-4e4c-8fb1-f, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  10. Farber, Henry S, 1994. "The Analysis of Interfirm Worker Mobility," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(4), pages 554-93, October.
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  12. Robert Gibbons & Michael Waldman, 1999. "A Theory of Wage and Promotion Dynamics Inside Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1321-1358.
  13. Marianne Bertrand & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2009. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Corporate and Financial Sectors," NBER Working Papers 14681, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Kenneth A. Couch & Robert Fairlie, 2005. "Last Hired, First Fired? Black-White Unemployment and the Business Cycle," Working papers 2005-50, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  15. Bergeron, Pierre-Jerome & Asgharian, Masoud & Wolfson, David B., 2008. "Covariate Bias Induced by Length-Biased Sampling of Failure Times," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103, pages 737-742, June.
  16. Barron, John M & Bishop, John & Dunkelberg, William C, 1985. "Employer Search: The Interviewing and Hiring of New Employees," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 43-52, February.
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