Social Indicators Research

, Volume 116, Issue 3, pp 731–754 | Cite as

Ethnic Discrimination in Recruitment and Decision Makers’ Features: Evidence from Laboratory Experiment and Survey Data using a Student Sample

  • Lieselotte Blommaert
  • Marcel Coenders
  • Frank van Tubergen


This article examines which individual-level factors are related to people’s likelihood of discriminating against ethnic minority job applicants. It moves beyond describing to what extent discrimination occurs by examining the role of individuals’ interethnic contacts, education and religion in shaping their behavior towards ethnic minority job applicants. We derive expectations from theories from the interethnic attitudes literature. Data are collected via (1) a laboratory experiment in which student participants (n = 272) reviewed résumés of fictitious applicants who varied regarding ethnicity, gender, education and work experience and (2) a survey amongst the same participants. During the experiment, participants assess applicants’ suitability for a job and select applicants for an interview. Additionally, participants complete a questionnaire including questions on several personal and background features. Results show that individuals who have more positive interethnic contacts, higher educational levels and higher educated parents are less likely to discriminate against ethnic minority applicants. Individuals whose parents are church members are more likely to discriminate, as are males. We find interesting differences regarding the role of decision makers’ features between different stages of the recruitment process. First assessments of applicants’ suitability for a job are predominantly affected by applicants’ features. Differences between decision makers here are relatively small. Eventual choices about which applicants to invite for a job interview, however, are affected by both applicants’ and decision makers’ features; here differences between decision makers are more pronounced. Theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.


Discrimination Ethnicity Labor market Interethnic competition Interethnic contact Laboratory experiment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lieselotte Blommaert
    • 1
  • Marcel Coenders
    • 2
  • Frank van Tubergen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Migration and Ethnic RelationsUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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