How Does Difficulty of Recruitment Impact Discrimination Against Applicants?

16459686135_28e21592cd_z[We’re pleased to welcome Stijn Baert of Ghent University. Stijn published an article in ILR Review entitled “Is There Less Discrimination in Occupations Where Recruitment Is Difficult?,” with co-authors Bart Cockx, Niels Gheyle, and Cora Vandamme.]

Do employers discriminate less when vacancies are difficult to fill? Theory says yes. Lower arrival rates of employees at vacancies increase the cost of discriminating because the foregone output when a minority worker is turned away is higher in that case. In this study, we are the first to test this theoretical relationship between hiring discrimination and labor ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointmarket tightness in an empirical way. To this end, we sent out fictitious job applications of school-leavers, randomly assigned to individuals with a native- and a Turkish-sounding name, to vacancies for jobs requiring no work experience in Belgium. We found indeed that, compared to natives, candidates with a Turkish-sounding name are equally often invited to a job interview if they apply for occupations for which vacancies are difficult to fill; but, they have to send twice as many applications for occupations for which labor market tightness is low.

The abstract for the paper:

The authors empirically test the cross-sectional relationship between hiring discrimination and labor market tightness at the level of the occupation. To this end, they conduct a correspondence test in the youth labor market. In line with theoretical expectations, results show that, compared to natives, candidates with a foreign-sounding name are equally often invited to a job interview if they apply for occupations for which vacancies are difficult to fill; but, they have to send out twice as many applications for occupations for which labor market tightness is low. Findings are robust to various sensitivity checks.

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*Career fair image attributed to Global Health Fellows Program II (CC)
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