Employers' Preferences for Gender, Age, Height and Beauty: Direct Evidence

45 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2009 Last revised: 14 Jan 2011

See all articles by Peter Kuhn

Peter Kuhn

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Kailing Shen

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 2009

Abstract

We study firms' advertised preferences for gender, age, height and beauty in a sample of ads from a Chinese internet job board, and interpret these patterns using a simple employer search model. We find that these characteristics are widely and highly valued by Chinese employers, though employers' valuations are highly specific to detailed jobs and occupations. Consistent with our model, advertised preferences for gender, age, height and beauty all become less prevalent as job skill requirements rise. Cross-sectional patterns suggest some role for customer discrimination, product market competition, and corporate culture. Using the recent collapse of China's labor market as a natural experiment, we find that firms' advertised education and experience requirements respond to changing labor market conditions in the direction predicted by our model, while firms' advertised preferences for age, gender, height and beauty do not.

Suggested Citation

Kuhn, Peter J. and Shen, Kailing, Employers' Preferences for Gender, Age, Height and Beauty: Direct Evidence (December 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15564. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1522704

Peter J. Kuhn (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics ( email )

North Hall 3036
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Kailing Shen

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics ( email )

997-1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://grad.econ.ubc.ca/kailings/index.html

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