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Gender Discrimination in Job Ads: Theory and Evidence

  • Peter J. Kuhn
  • Kailing Shen

We study firms' advertised gender preferences in a population of ads on a Chinese internet job board, and interpret these patterns using a simple employer search model. The model allows us to distinguish firms' underlying gender preferences from firms' propensities to restrict their search to their preferred gender. The model also predicts that higher job skill requirements should reduce the tendency to gender-target a job ad; this is strongly confirmed in our data, and suggests that rising skill demands may be a potent deterrent to explicit discrimination of the type we document here. We also find that firms' underlying gender preferences are highly job-specific, with many firms requesting men for some jobs and women for others, and with one third of the variation in gender preferences within firm*occupation cells.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17453.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Publication status: published as “Gender Discrimination in Job Ads: Evidence from China” Quarterly Journal of Economics 128(1) (February 2013) (with Kaling Shen).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17453
Note: LS
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  1. Pieter A. Gautier, 2001. "The Right Man for the Job," CESifo Working Paper Series 540, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Sandra E. Black & Elizabeth Brainerd, 2004. "Importing equality? The impact of globalization on gender discrimination," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(4), pages 540-559, July.
  3. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jeff E. Biddle, 1993. "Beauty and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709, March.
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  6. Moen, E.R., 1995. "Competitive Search Equilibrium," Memorandum 37/1995, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
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  8. 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.
  9. van Ours, J C & Ridder, G, 1993. "Vacancy Durations: Search or Selection?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 55(2), pages 187-98, May.
  10. Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo & Maitreesh Ghatak & Jeanne Lafortune, 2013. "Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 33-72, May.
  11. van Ours, J.C. & Ridder, G., 1991. "Job Requirements and Recruitment of New Employees," Other publications TiSEM ce03ddbe-179d-4e95-8278-5, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  12. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Jonathan Guryan, 2008. "Prejudice and Wages: An Empirical Assessment of Becker's The Economics of Discrimination," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(5), pages 773-809, October.
  13. Guido Menzio, 2007. "A Theory of Partially Directed Search," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(5), pages 748-769, October.
  14. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2003. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 9873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Peter Kuhn & Kailing Shen, 2009. "Employers' Preferences for Gender, Age, Height and Beauty: Direct Evidence," NBER Working Papers 15564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Xin Meng & Junsen Zhang & Pak-Wai Liu, 2000. "Sectoral gender wage differentials and discrimination in the transitional Chinese economy," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 331-352.
  17. Junsen Zhang & Jun Han & Pak-Wai Liu & Yaohui Zhao, 2008. "Trends in the Gender Earnings Differential in Urban China, 1988–2004," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 61(2), pages 224-243, January.
  18. van Ours, Jan & Ridder, Geert, 1992. "Vacancies and the Recruitment of New Employees," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(2), pages 138-55, April.
  19. Barron, John M & Bishop, John, 1985. "Extensive Search, Intensive Search, and Hiring Costs: New Evidence on Employer Hiring Activity," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 23(3), pages 363-82, July.
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