Peering over the shoulders of recruiters: Hiring discrimination on a recruitment platform

Here’s an exciting new study on hiring discrimination. They got access to the behavioural data of online recruiters to find evidence of discrimination against atypical candidates: Contact rates by recruiters are 4–19% lower for individuals from immigrant and minority ethnic groups, depending on their country of origin, than for citizens from the majority group. Women experience a penalty of 7% in professions that are dominated by men, and the opposite pattern emerges for men in professions that are dominated by women.

I find it interesting that they pitch their method as an alternative to correspondence tests (perhaps not all that novel if we’re looking outside the strict focus on hiring discrimination). We’re seeing an increasing number of correspondence tests in recent years, despite important ethical concerns. Not all of them are reasonably motivated, in my view — “no recent correspondence test” in a particular country/for a particular group/occupation does not cut it for me –, but jointly these studies give us a pretty clear picture of discrimination (especially in Western countries). Access to recruiting databases may not be possible in all countries, and we’re still struggling with the blatant omission of informal labour markets and internal recruitment. On the other hand, at least in principle we could test different interfaces and see if we can reduce discrimination this way…

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.”

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The (lack of) evidence on unconscious bias and diversity training

Over at the BI team, there’s a nice summary of the lack of evidence on unconscious bias and diversity training. Note in particular the difference between perceived “effectiveness” and the lack of evidence that behaviour actually changed. As usual, the focus is really on application and the question what should be done. Discrimination is too serious an issue that we can leave it to feel-good check-box exercises!

Some reflections on MIPEX in German over at the NCCR blog

Together with Gianni D’Amato and Denise Efionayi-Mäder, I have written up some reflections on the new MIPEX results for Switzerland (in German):

We highlight the comparatively poor protection against discrimination in Switzerland, despite growing attention to Black Lives Matter and racism. We encourage policy comparison not to copy and past policies, but to encourage local solutions to do more.

Incidentally, the new results from MIPEX present nothing new — Swiss immigrant integration policies have been stable in the last few years (though historically they have changed much).

Should we come across as criticizing Swiss policy, let’s not forget the innovative and positive policies on health care in Switzerland (ranked “favourable” by MIPEX).

Reminder: CfP: Discrimination and Racism in Cross-National Perspective

The deadline is approaching soon: 27 November, 2020

For a long time, racism has been studied without references to discrimination and was mainly conceived as a specific expression of prejudice. The retreat from blatant form of racism that were not tolerate any more to more subtle and systemic forms of racism has paved the way for studies on ethnic and racial discrimination and inequalities.

Research on discrimination against immigrants and their descendants has grown significantly in the last twenty years, paralleling the settlement of immigrant populations and the coming of age of the second generations. Studies document differential treatment and discrimination in different markets (e.g. labour market, housing) and social spheres regulated by principles of equality (e.g. school, health service, police). Patterns of discrimination are embedded in institutional contexts and a larger societal environment, characterized not only by economic uncertainties and increasing political polarization in public debate around immigrant related issues, but also by increasing diversity and opportunities of contact. Such changes in the context are likely to affect attitudes and ideology diffusion in majority and minority members. However, studies about discrimination frequently do not refer specifically to racism, and the methodological gains in measuring discrimination did not transfer directly to the measurement of racism. How far racism and ethnic and racial discrimination are distinct, and how they relate to each other are key issues we would like to explore in this panel. In addition to these general questions, we are also interested in papers addressing the consequences of the Covid-19 on ethnic and racial inequalities in health would be very welcomed.

The panel will bring together researchers on discrimination, racism, and inequalities, tackling these issues from various disciplines, theoretical backgrounds and methods. We welcome empirical studies of discrimination patterns across a large variety of domains, theoretical perspectives on how the prevalence of ethnic discrimination and racism should be explained and conceptualized, and studies on the consequences of anti-discrimination policies and legislation, including considerations inequalities in health and racial inequalities and how these can be overcome. We also welcome papers which use and discuss theories about cross-country differences, ethnic hierarchies, and evolution over time.

Submit your abstract specifying the research question, data, methods and findings (200 words maximum) no later than 27 November 2020. For further information get in touch with Didier Ruedin ( The notification of acceptance will be made by 30 November 2020.

Organizer: Patrick Simon (INED), Didier Ruedin (University of Neuchâtel)