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

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    I define the second generation as children of immigrants, either born in their parents’ destination country or arrived before adolescence. This definition is in line with Portes and Rumbaut (2005), Thomson and Crul (2007), and Alba and Waters (2011a), but differs from Heath and Cheung (2007), who reserve the term to individuals actually born in the ‘host country’ by one or more immigrant parents.

  2. 2.

    However, one former field experiment has explored the role of discrimination in the Norwegian housing market (Andersson et al. 2012).

  3. 3.

    The Pakistani names used in the experiment were Kamran Ahmad and Saera Rashid; the Norwegian names were Andreas Hansen and Ida Johansen.

  4. 4.

    In the six industries covered in this field experiment, the share of women is as follows: health and social work (82.1%), teaching (62.7%), public administration (47.4%), finance and insurance (43.1%), information and communications (29.5%), and transport and logistics (21.4%). The numbers have been collected from Statistics Norway’s Labour Force Survey 2011. The main findings from this survey are available in English: http://www.ssb.no/english/subjects/06/01/yrkeaku_en/.

  5. 5.

    Subsequent interviews with a subsample of the employers included in this field experiment confirmed that this is the case also in the Norwegian labour market context.

  6. 6.

    Many social scientists would employ a logistic regression model in this case, as the dependent variable is a binary one. Following Mood’s (2010) arguments, however, a linear probability model can be equally appropriate. As I am only interested in the significance of the net effects of ethnic background and sector in gender-integrated occupations, as well as in the interaction effects between a Pakistani name and sector, using a logistic regression model and converting the estimates to average marginal effects or probabilities in this case seems to be a ‘complicated detour’ (cf. Mood 2010: 78). I have run the analysis using logistic regression as well (not shown here) and the results are nearly identical.

  7. 7.

    The remaining rows in Table 4 show that all the callback rates in the occupations included in the models are significantly different from the reference category (average callback rate for primary school teacher positions net of gender, ethnic background and sector). I have also investigated whether the net callback rates in the different occupations are statistically significant from each other: Net callback rates for insurance advisors, accounting assistants, and public consultants are significantly different from controllers and information officers but not from each other. Net callback rates for controllers and information officers are very low and not significantly different from each other.

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Acknowledgments

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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Midtbøen, A.H. Discrimination of the Second Generation: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Norway. Int. Migration & Integration 17, 253–272 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-014-0406-9

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Keywords

  • Discrimination
  • Ethnicity
  • Field experiment
  • Employment
  • Second generation