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Measuring employment discrimination through controlled experiments


Race/ethnic discrimination in hiring can be measured under controlled conditions using matched pairs of minority and nonminority research assistants posing as applicants for the same job. In 149 inperson job applications in the Washington, D.C., labor market, African American applicants were treated less favorab ly than equally qualified nonminorities more than one-fifth of the time. Employer behavior during these interactions suggest that, within continued public and private efforts against discrimination, particular attention should be accorded to the cognitive underpinnings of bias.

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  27. Thomas,Beyond Race and Gender; Jackson,Diversity; Egan and Bendick,Managing. Several social psychological studies have found that, in laboratory simulations of employment selections, individuals often discriminated in favor of minorities [Arvey and Campion, “The Employment Interview”; Braddock and McPartland, “How Minorities”]. These results contrast with the findings of testing studies involving actual job selections in firms. To understand this contrast, further research is needed to differentiate between discrimination reflecting the attitudes of individual staff members and that reflecting the policies and organizational culture of the firms that employ them.

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Bendick, M., Jackson, C.W. & Reinoso, V.A. Measuring employment discrimination through controlled experiments. Rev Black Polit Econ 23, 25–48 (1994).

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  • Labor Market
  • Employment Agency
  • Black Youth
  • Employment Discrimination
  • Urban Institute