Correspondence Test Shows Discrimination by School Administrators

A new correspondence study from Denmark shows discrimination by school administrators against parents with ‘Muslim’ names. They sent letters to schools across the country to ask whether they could move their son to that particular school (implying that they were not happy with the current school). 25% of fathers with a ‘Danish’ name (i.e. Peter Nielsen) received a positive answer, compared with 15% of fathers with a ‘Muslim’ name (i.e. Mohammad Osman).

In addition to holding everything constant by using men only (fathers enquiring about their sons), they had a variation in whether the son was a ‘diligent’ student. An interesting qualitative detail is that ‘Muslims’ are more often subjected to additional questions by e-mail (simple questions like verifying they actually live in the catchment area), while the ‘Danes’ were more often asked to call.

I find it interesting that their point of reference were studies on discrimination by public officials (typically politicians), but did not reflect methodological innovations from other correspondence tests, like stimulus sampling (!), or considerations of unmatched designs. I find it disappointing to find that the pre-registration at EGAP leads to a “page not found” error, especially since footnote 1 contains this interesting teaser: “We diverge from the preregistration to limit our focus only to the two variables that were subject to experimental manipulation and causal inference rather than those conditional on posttreatment responses.”

Costa, Mia. 2017. ‘How Responsive Are Political Elites? A Meta-Analysis of Experiments on Public Officials’. Journal of Experimental Political Science 4(3):241–54. doi: 10.1017/XPS.2017.14.

Larsen, Edvard N. 2020. ‘Induced Competition in Matched Correspondence Tests: Conceptual and Methodological Considerations’. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 65:100475. doi: 10.1016/j.rssm.2020.100475.

Olsen, Asmus Leth, Jonas Høgh Kyhse‐Andersen, and Donald Moynihan. 2021. ‘The Unequal Distribution of Opportunity: A National Audit Study of Bureaucratic Discrimination in Primary School Access’. American Journal of Political Science n/a(n/a). doi:

Zschirnt, Eva, and Didier Ruedin. 2016. ‘Ethnic Discrimination in Hiring Decisions: A Meta-Analysis of Correspondence Tests 1990–2015’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42(7):1115–34. doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2015.1133279.

Photo by olia danilevich on

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