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Do Field Experiments on Labor and Housing Markets Overstate Discrimination? A Re-examination of the Evidence

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  • David Neumark
  • Judith Rich

Abstract

There have been over 80 field experiments on traditional dimensions of discrimination in labor and housing markets since 2000, in 23 countries. These studies nearly always find evidence of discrimination against minorities. However, the estimates of discrimination in these studies can be biased if there is differential variation in the unobservable determinants of productivity or quality of majority and minority groups, so it is possible that this experimental literature as a whole overstates the evidence of discrimination. We re-assess the evidence from the 10 existing studies of discrimination that have sufficient information to correct for this bias. For the housing market studies, the estimated effect of discrimination is robust to this correction. For the labor market studies, in contrast, the evidence is less robust, as just over half of the estimates of discrimination either fall to near zero, become statistically insignificant, or change sign.

Suggested Citation

  • David Neumark & Judith Rich, 2016. "Do Field Experiments on Labor and Housing Markets Overstate Discrimination? A Re-examination of the Evidence," NBER Working Papers 22278, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22278
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ali M. Ahmed & Lina Andersson & Mats Hammarstedt, 2010. "Can Discrimination in the Housing Market Be Reduced by Increasing the Information about the Applicants?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 86(1), pages 79-90.
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    Cited by:

    1. Berson, Clémence & Laouénan, Morgane & Valat, Emmanuel, 2020. "Outsourcing recruitment as a solution to prevent discrimination: A correspondence study," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    2. Becker, Sascha O. & Fernandes, Ana & Weichselbaumer, Doris, 2019. "Discrimination in hiring based on potential and realized fertility: Evidence from a large-scale field experiment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 139-152.
    3. Acolin, Arthur & Bostic, Raphael & Painter, Gary, 2016. "A field study of rental market discrimination across origins in France," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 49-63.
    4. Drydakis, Nick & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2020. "Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Labour Market Outcomes: New Patterns and Insights," GLO Discussion Paper Series 627, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    5. Kübler, Dorothea & Schmid, Julia & Stüber, Robert, 2018. "Gender discrimination in hiring across occupations: a nationally-representative vignette study," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 215-229.
    6. Becker, Sascha O. & Fernandes, Ana & Weichselbaumer, Doris, 2019. "Discrimination in hiring based on potential and realized fertility: Evidence from a large-scale field experiment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 139-152.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

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

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