Salary History and Employer Demand: Evidence from a Two-Sided Audit
111 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021 Last revised: 3 Nov 2021
Date Written: September 23, 2021
We study how salary history disclosures affect employer demand by using a novel, two-sided field experiment featuring hundreds of recruiters reviewing over 2000 job applications. We randomize the presence of salary history questions as well as candidates' disclosures. We find that employers make negative inferences about non-disclosing candidates, and view salary history as a stronger signal about competing options than worker quality. Disclosures by men (and other highly-paid candidates) yield higher salary offers, however they are negative signals of value (net of salary), and thus yield fewer callbacks. Male wage premiums are regarded as a weaker signal of quality than other sources (such as the premiums from working at higher paying firms, or being well-paid compared to peers). Recruiters correctly anticipate that women are less likely to disclose salary history at any level, and punish women less than men for silence. In our simulation of bans, we find no evidence that bans affect the gender ratio of callback choices, but find large reductions in gender inequality in salary offers among candidates called back. However, salary offers are lower overall (especially for men). A theoretical framework shows how these effects may differ by key properties of labor markets.
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