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Older Workers Need Not Apply? Ageist Language in Job Ads and Age Discrimination in Hiring

Author

Listed:
  • Ian Burn
  • Patrick Button
  • Luis Felipe Munguia Corella
  • David Neumark

Abstract

We study the relationships between ageist stereotypes – as reflected in the language used in job ads – and age discrimination in hiring, exploiting the text of job ads and differences in callbacks to older and younger job applicants from a previous resume (correspondence study) field experiment (Neumark, Burn, and Button, 2019). Our analysis uses methods from computational linguistics and machine learning to directly identify, in a field-experiment setting, ageist stereotypes that underlie age discrimination in hiring. We find evidence that language related to stereotypes of older workers sometimes predicts discrimination against older workers. For men, our evidence points most strongly to age stereotypes about physical ability, communication skills, and technology predicting age discrimination, and for women, age stereotypes about communication skills and technology. The method we develop provides a framework for applied researchers analyzing textual data, highlighting the usefulness of various computer science techniques for empirical economics research.

Suggested Citation

  • Ian Burn & Patrick Button & Luis Felipe Munguia Corella & David Neumark, 2019. "Older Workers Need Not Apply? Ageist Language in Job Ads and Age Discrimination in Hiring," NBER Working Papers 26552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26552
    Note: AG LS
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Riach, Peter A. & Rich, Judy, 2006. "An Experimental Investigation of Age Discrimination in the French Labour Market," IZA Discussion Papers 2522, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Baert, Stijn & Norga, Jennifer & Thuy, Yannick & Van Hecke, Marieke, 2016. "Getting grey hairs in the labour market. An alternative experiment on age discrimination," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 86-101.
    3. Gaddis, S. Michael, 2018. "An Introduction to Audit Studies in the Social Sciences," SocArXiv e5hfc, Center for Open Science.
    4. repec:wyi:journl:002164 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Ivar Krumpal, 2013. "Determinants of social desirability bias in sensitive surveys: a literature review," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 47(4), pages 2025-2047, June.
    6. Patrick Button, 2019. "Population Aging, Age Discrimination, and Age Discrimination Protections at the 50th Anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act," NBER Working Papers 25850, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Peter Kuhn & Kailing Shen, 2013. "Gender Discrimination in Job Ads: Evidence from China," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 287-336.
    8. Joanna N. Lahey, 2008. "Age, Women, and Hiring: An Experimental Study," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
    9. Hanson, Andrew & Hawley, Zackary & Taylor, Aryn, 2011. "Subtle discrimination in the rental housing market: Evidence from e-mail correspondence with landlords," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 276-284.
    10. David Neumark & Ian Burn & Patrick Button, 2019. "Is It Harder for Older Workers to Find Jobs? New and Improved Evidence from a Field Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 127(2), pages 922-970.
    11. Michael Fix & Raymond Struyk, 1993. "Clear and convincing evidence: Measurement of discrimination in america," Natural Field Experiments 00241, The Field Experiments Website.
    12. Henry S. Farber & Chris M. Herbst & Dan Silverman & Till von Wachter, 2019. "Whom Do Employers Want? The Role of Recent Employment and Unemployment Status and Age," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(2), pages 323-349.
    13. Hanson, Andrew & Hawley, Zackary & Martin, Hal & Liu, Bo, 2016. "Discrimination in mortgage lending: Evidence from a correspondence experiment," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 48-65.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hannah Van Borm & Ian Burn & Stijn Baert, 2019. "What Does a Job Candidate’s Age Signal to Employers?," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 19/984, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)

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