Racial discrimination is alive and global

race.cardRacial minorities, older workers, gays and lesbians and others face unfair discrimination all over the Western world.

That was the conclusion of a British economist named Judith Rich after studying field experiments in 17 countries using equally-qualified testers of different races, ages and so on.

The 70 studies have investigated if discrimination exists on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, obesity, caste and religion. Significant and persistent discrimination against the vast majority of these groups in all markets was found.

High levels of discrimination in hiring were recorded against ethnic groups, older workers, homosexuals and men applying to female-dominated jobs.

Immigrant groups were discriminated against despite being educated in schools, and proficient in the language, of the country of residence.

Middle Eastern and Moroccan groups across Europe and African-Americans in the United States were discriminated against when seeking jobs or housing.

An African-American applicant needed to apply to 5o percent 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.

Even more disturbingly, 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.

In the USA:

  • An African-American applicant needed to apply to 50 percent 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.

via Media Briefings – Royal Economic Society.

Studies like this are important as reminders that discrimination is not a thing of the past, and that the just demands of African Americans in particular are not for compensation for injustices of the past, but abolition of the injustices of the present.

It’s not obvious to me what to do about this.   The USA and other countries have had laws for decades banning racial discrimination, and it still persists, because discrimination is so easy to hide.  I don’t think racial quotas are a good answer, but I don’t have a good answer of my own.

LINK

Illegal Discrimination Still Significant and Persistent: New survey of 70 studies over the past 15 years, a media briefing by the Royal Economic Society.   Hat tip to Mark Thoma.

What Do Field Experiments of Discrimination in Markets Tell Us?  A Meta Analysis of Studies Conducted Since 2000 by Judith Rich of the University of Portsmouth Business School.  Evidently a summary of an earlier draft covering 67 studies.

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