Discrimination at the Intersection of Age, Race, and Gender: Evidence from a Lab-in-The-Field Experiment

56 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2018

See all articles by Joanna Lahey

Joanna Lahey

Texas A&M University - George Bush School of Government and Public Service; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Douglas Oxley

University of Wyoming

Date Written: December 2018

Abstract

We use a laboratory experiment with randomized resumes and eyetracking to explore the effects of race on employment discrimination over the lifecycle. We show race discrimination against prime-age black job applicants that diminishes into middle age before re-emerging for older applicants. Screeners mechanically process black and white resumes similarly, but spend less time on younger black resumes, suggesting they use negative heuristics or taste-based discrimination. Screeners demonstrate levels-based statistical discrimination, believing that younger black applicants have worse computer skills and more gaps in their job histories. We find no evidence that screeners believe black applicants have worse previous experience. Screeners demonstrate variance-based statistical discrimination against black applicants of all ages, suggesting that screeners perceive the stronger history signals for white applicants, with this type of discrimination disproportionately affecting older applicants. We find suggestive evidence that the signal sent by high school attended is weaker for younger black applicants compared to younger white applicants, and we find no evidence that the signal strength of the applicant’s address varies by race. Evidence from the CPS and an additional study supports the external validity of our experiment, particularly for female job applicants. Results are robust to different controls and specification choices.

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Suggested Citation

Lahey, Joanna and Oxley, Douglas, Discrimination at the Intersection of Age, Race, and Gender: Evidence from a Lab-in-The-Field Experiment (December 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w25357. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3302471

Joanna Lahey (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University - George Bush School of Government and Public Service ( email )

TAMU 4220
1004 George Bush Dr West
College Station, TX 77843
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Douglas Oxley

University of Wyoming

Box 3434 University Station
Laramie, WY 82070
United States

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