Hiring a Homosexual, Taking a Risk? A Lab Experiment on Employment Discrimination and Risk Aversion

23 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2015

See all articles by Stijn Baert

Stijn Baert

Ghent University; University of Antwerp; Catholic University of Louvain (UCL); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)


We investigate risk aversion as a driver of labour market discrimination against homosexual men. We show that more hiring discrimination by more risk-averse employers is consistent with taste-based and statistical discrimination. To test this hypothesis we conduct a scenario experiment in which experimental employers make a hiring decision concerning a heterosexual or homosexual job candidate. In addition, participants are surveyed on their risk aversion and other characteristics that might correlate with this risk aversion. Analysis of the (post-)experimental data confirms our hypothesis. The probability of a beneficial hiring decision for homosexual candidates decreases by 31.7% when employers are a standard deviation more risk-averse.

Keywords: hiring discrimination, statistical discrimination, sexual orientation, scenario experiment, risk aversion

JEL Classification: C91, J15, J71

Suggested Citation

Baert, Stijn, Hiring a Homosexual, Taking a Risk? A Lab Experiment on Employment Discrimination and Risk Aversion. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9536. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2696375

Stijn Baert (Contact Author)

Ghent University ( email )

University of Antwerp ( email )

Prinsstraat 13
Antwerp, Antwerp 2000

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.uantwerpen.be/nl/personeel/stijn-baert/

Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) ( email )

Place Montesquieu, 3
Louvain-la-Neuve, 1348

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.uclouvain.be/en-309318.html

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/photos/index_html?key=6832

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