Choice-Based Discrimination: Labor Force Type Discrimination Against Gay Men, the Obese and Mothers
36 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2012
Date Written: July 6, 2012
Do perceptions of controllability and choice affect the nature and magnitude of discrimination? Many groups of people, who hold seemingly controllable devalued traits, including gay men, the obese and mothers, are discriminated against both in the labor force and in other areas of life. In this paper, I show that perceptions of choice and controllability generate discrimination against individuals with seemingly controllable stigmatized traits. I use a hiring experiment in a highly controlled setting to assess this argument. The results provide strong evidence for a causal relationship between perceptions of choice and labor force type discrimination against gay men, obese men and mothers. When the traits were presented as voluntary, gay men, obese men and mothers were penalized when compared to their equally qualified counterparts in terms of hiring, salary recommendations and competence evaluations. When the traits were presented as non-voluntary, people who hold these traits were placed at an advantage compared with those who do not hold them.
Keywords: discrimination, choice, labor force
JEL Classification: J71
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation