Economic Downturn = Racist Attitudes

A new paper by David W. Johnston and Grace Lordan shows that self-declared attitudes towards people of other races are more negative during economic downturns (when unemployment is higher). This finding is reminiscent to what Marco Pecoraro and I found with regard to attitudes towards foreigners. While we did not make the link to the context and unemployment levels, our analysis demonstrates that the self-declared risk of unemployment is related to negative attitudes towards foreigners.

Now negative attitudes are not the same as discriminatory behaviour. Interestingly, in our meta-analysis of correspondence tests we found no systematic link between the economic situation and discrimination in the labour market. This would suggest that the impact of the economy is only indirect — or that we’re not doing good enough a job in capturing what’s going on.

Johnston, David W., and Grace Lordan. 2015. ‘Racial Prejudice and Labour Market Penalties during Economic Downturns.’ European Economic Review. doi:10.1016/j.euroecorev.2015.07.011.

Pecoraro, Marco, and Didier Ruedin. 2015. ‘A Foreigner Who Doesn’t Steal My Job: The Role of Unemployment Risk and Values in Attitudes towards Equal Opportunities.’ International Migration Review, 1–53. doi:10.1111/imre.12162.

Zschirnt, Eva and Ruedin, Didier, Ethnic Discrimination in Hiring Decisions: A Meta-Analysis of Correspondence Tests 1990-2015 (April 22, 2015). Available at SSRN:

Meta-Analysis on Discrimination: 2nd Place, Best Paper Award

10_DSC_3427I’m happy to announce that a paper I’ve drafted with Eva Zschirnt has won 2nd place for the IMISCOE Rinus Penninx Best Paper Award. In the paper we provide a proper meta-analysis of ethnic discrimination in hiring decision, summarizing the results of 627 correspondence tests carried out between 1990 and 2015. We show that despite the introduction of anti-discrimination legislation, discrimination against ethnic and racial minorities remains prevalent in the hiring process. What is more, there does not appear to be any systematic link between the economic situation and the incidence of discrimination.

Picture credit: © Andreas Perret and nccr – on the move, with permission.

Defending the Decimals? Not so Fast!

In a recent article in Sociological Science, Jeremy Freese comes to the defence of ‘foolishly false precision’ as he calls it. To cut a short story even shorter, the paper argues for including these conventional three decimals when reporting research findings — as long as the research community continues to rely so much (too much) on p-values. The reason for this is that we can recover precise p-values when often it is simply reported whether the results were above or below a specific level of significance.

While I share the concerns presented in the paper, I think it may actually do more harm than good. Yes, in the academic literature simply appearing more precise than one is will fool nobody with at least a little bit of statistical training. What we miss, however, by including tables with three or four decimals, is communication. It is easier to see that 0.5 is bigger than 0.3 (and roughly how much) than say 0.4958 and 0.307. Cut decimals or keep them? I think we should do both: cut them as much as we can in the main text — graphics would be very strong contenders there; and keep them in the appendix or online supplementary material (as I argued a year ago; and if reviewers think otherwise, ignore them!). That’s exactly in the spirit of Jeremy Freese’s paper, I think: give those doing meta-analyses the numbers the need, while keeping the main text nice and clean.