Discrimination of the Second Generation: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Norway

  • Arnfinn H. MidtbøenEmail author


A major question in labour market research is the extent to which discrimination in employments causes the disadvantages experienced by children of immigrants. This article contributes to the debate by utilising a correspondence test study in which pairs of equivalent résumés and cover letters—one with a Pakistani name and one with a Norwegian name—were sent in response to 900 job openings in the greater Oslo area. The results show that applicants with Norwegian names on average are 25 % more likely to receive a call back for a job interview than equally qualified applicants with Pakistani names. More refined analyses demonstrate that the effect of ethnic background on employment probabilities is larger among men than women and larger in the private sector than in the public sector, and important variations among the occupations included in the study are revealed. In an effort to separate the potentially conflating effects of gender and sector, all applications to gender-segregated occupations were removed from the analyses. Interestingly, the gender differences disappear when exclusively analysing discrimination in gender-integrated occupations by sector. In gender-integrated occupations in the private sector, the gender difference in fact is reversed, indicating that women with minority background are treated less favourably than are minority men in the private sector. These results suggest that the intersection of gender, ethnicity, and sector should be scrutinised more carefully in future field experiments.


Discrimination Ethnicity Field experiment Employment Second generation 



This research received financial support from The Ministry of Equality, Children and Social Inclusion in Norway and was conducted in cooperation with Jon Rogstad. Rogstad developed the original research design and was the head of the project. I gratefully acknowledge the valuable comments and suggestions from Liza Reisel and Grete Brochmann as well as from the journal’s referees. Many thanks also to Erika Braanen Sterri, Ida Kvittingen, and Idunn Brekke for excellent research assistance in collecting the experimental data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Social Research, OsloOsloNorway

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