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Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination

40 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2003  

Marianne Bertrand

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Sendhil Mullainathan

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 27, 2003

Abstract

We perform a field experiment to measure racial discrimination in the labor market. We respond with fictitious resumes to help-wanted ads in Boston and Chicago newspapers. To manipulate perception of race, each resume is randomly assigned either a very African American sounding name or a very White sounding name. The results show significant discrimination against African-American names: White names receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews. We also find that race affects the benefits of a better resume. For White names, a higher quality resume elicits 30 percent more callbacks whereas for African Americans, it elicits a far smaller increase. Applicants living in better neighborhoods receive more callbacks but, interestingly, this effect does not differ by race. The amount of discrimination is uniform across occupations and industries. Federal contractors and employers who list Equal Opportunity Employer in their ad discriminate as much as other employers. We find little evidence that our results are driven by employers inferring something other than race, such as social class, from the names. These results suggest that racial discrimination is still a prominent feature of the labor market.

Keywords: Discrimination, Race, Field Studies, Randomized Experiments, Stereotypes, Prejudice Statistical Discrimination, Hiring Practices, Employment, Human Capital

JEL Classification: J7, J71, J23, J24, J63, J82, C93

Suggested Citation

Bertrand, Marianne and Mullainathan, Sendhil, Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination (May 27, 2003). MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 03-22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=422902 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.422902

Marianne Bertrand

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-5943 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://gsbwww.uchicago.edu/fac/marianne.bertrand/vita/cv_0604.pdf

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Sendhil Mullainathan (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2720 (Phone)
617-495-7730 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-588-1473 (Phone)
617-876-2742 (Fax)

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