Out Now: Hiring discrimination on the basis of skin colour? A correspondence test in Switzerland

I’m very happy to announce a new publication in JEMS on hiring discrimination of Blacks in Switzerland (joint work with Rosita Fibbi, Eva Zschirnt, and Robin Stünzi). Sometimes it’s funny how events unfold — the decision to run this correspondence test to measure hiring discrimination on the basis of skin colour was taken in 2014, and we went into the field in 2018. Then, in 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum and increasingly people in Western Europe started talking about racism and discrimination against Blacks. In this sense, we‘re very happy to make our contribution to document discrimination as an undeniable fact, regardless of the fact that some keep claiming that without formal colonies Switzerland could not be affected by racism (I’ll leave the “happy” for times when things get better).

We show that Black jobseekers in Switzerland must send around 30 per cent more applications than White candidates in order to be invited to a job interview.

Not entirely by coincidence, we can compare the results with other recent correspondence studies in Switzerland that cover immigrants from Kosovo, and we can show that the level of discrimination is substantively equivalent for applicants with a Kosovo-Albanian name. This suggests that in the Swiss case there is on average no additional penalty for skin colour. Explorations, however, reveal significant differences in discrimination rates between urban and rural settings, opening new avenues for understanding why ethnic and racial discrimination vary across geographical contexts.

Rosita Fibbi, Didier Ruedin, Robin Stünzi & Eva Zschirnt (2021) Hiring discrimination on the basis of skin colour? A correspondence test in Switzerland, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2021.1999795

Hiring: Postdoctoral Researcher

We have an open position for a

Post-Doctoral Researcher (30 months, 80% FTE)

The start date will be 1 September 2021 or as agreed. The successful applicant is expected to contribute to a research project on the long-term impact of refugee shocks on the labour market, health, reproductive behaviour, well-being, and attitudinal outcomes of the resident population (quasi-experimental setup).

Requirements: You have completed a doctorate in one of the social sciences (preferably economics; sociology, or political sciences). Excellent knowledge of quantitative methods is required (preferably Stata or R). The project uses register data, as well as data from the Labour Force Survey, the Swiss Health Survey, post-election surveys, and results from selected referendums and popular initiatives. You are open to collaborate in an inter-disciplinary team. Experience in the analysis of register data, matching datasets, experimental methods and a keen interest in immigration, health, or labour market outcomes are an asset. Excellent written and oral command of English is required; knowledge of French or German is an asset.

You will be attached to the Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies at the University of Neuchâtel (http://www.unine.ch/sfm/) and will join a team in economics, sociology, and demography. An affiliation to the national centre of excellence NCCR on the move (https://nccr-onthemove.ch/) is possible and will open up exchange with other postdocs and researchers across the country.

Benefits: The salary is in accordance with the university guidelines (https://www.unine.ch/srh/post-doctorant-e-s-fns). There is a budget for conference participation, and we will support you develop your own research agenda.

Employer: The position is based at the University of Neuchâtel. The University of Neuchâtel is an equal opportunities employer. Qualified women and candidates with a migration history are encouraged to apply.

Submitting application: Applications (letter of intent, CV, names of two referees, a relevant research paper as a writing sample) should be submitted as a single PDF to didier.ruedin@unine.ch (also for queries). The position is open until filled; for full consideration, apply by 15 June 2021.

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…