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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

'Illegal Discrimination Still Significant and Persistent'

From the RES Conference at the University of Manchester:

Illegal Discrimination Still Significant and Persistent: If you are black, foreign, female, elderly, disabled, gay, obese or not a member of the dominant caste or religion in your community, you may face ‘significant and persistent discrimination’ when you go to apply for a job, rent a house or buy a product. That is the overall conclusion of a new survey by Judith Rich of 70 field studies of discrimination conducted during the last 15 years. Her report will be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2015 annual conference.
Field studies of discrimination in markets ensure that group identity is the only difference observed by the decision-maker about an individual. Carefully matched testers, one from the group that may be the victim of discrimination, apply for jobs, rental accommodation or to buy a house or flat, or to purchase goods or services. This can be done in person, over the telephone, (where testers are trained) or, in the majority of studies, in writing, usually by email (where content and style are equivalent).
Among the findings of the 70 experiments in the analysis:
  • An African-American applicant needed to apply to 50% more job vacancies than a white applicant to be offered an interview.
  • Having a higher qualification made virtually no difference for African-Americans but it made a significant improvement in interview offers for whites.
  • White applicants with a criminal record received more interviews than African-Americans with no criminal record.
  • Older workers needed to make between two to three times as many job applications as a young worker to get an offer of interview. 
  • When purchasing products, higher prices were quoted to minority applicants buying used cars in the United State and Israel, drinks in nightclubs and bars in New Orleans, and seeking car repairs in Chicago.
The author notes that discrimination of this type is hard to counteract by developing additional skills: ‘Immigrant groups were discriminated against despite being educated in schools, and proficient in the language, of the country of residence.’
It is illegal in many countries for an employer or estate agent to discriminate, but these studies indicate its continued covert existence. One problem is that it is difficult for a victim of this type of discrimination to find evidence to instigate legal action under current legislation, raising the issue of the adequacy of anti-discrimination laws. ...

    Posted by on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 05:52 AM in Economics | Permalink  Comments (13)


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