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IFS-STICERD Public Economics Seminar

Systemic Discrimination Among Large U.S. Employers

Evan Rose (Chicago), joint with Patrick M. Kline and Christopher R. Walters

Wednesday 16 March 2022 12:30 - 14:00

Many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.

Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.

About this event

We study the results of a massive nationwide correspondence experiment sending more than 83,000 fictitious applications with randomized characteristics to geographically dispersed jobs posted by 108 of the largest U.S. employers. Distinctively Black names reduce the probability of employer contact by 2.1 percentage points relative to distinctively white names. The magnitude of this racial gap in contact rates differs substantially across firms, exhibiting a between-company standard deviation of 1.9 percentage points. Despite an insignificant average gap in contact rates between male and female applicants, we find a between-company standard deviation in gender contact gaps of 2.7 percentage points, revealing that some firms favor male applicants while others favor women. Company-specific racial contact gaps are temporally and spatially persistent, and negatively correlated with firm profitability, federal contractor status, and a measure of recruiting centralization. Discrimination exhibits little geographical dispersion, but two digit industry explains roughly half of the cross-firm variation in both racial and gender contact gaps. Contact gaps are highly concentrated in particular companies, with firms in the top quintile of racial discrimination responsible for nearly half of lost contacts to Black applicants in the experiment. Controlling false discovery rates to the 5% level, 23 individual companies are found to discriminate against Black applicants. Our findings establish that discrimination against distinctively Black names is concentrated among a select set of large employers, many of which can be identified with high confidence using large scale inference methods.

This seminar series is jointly organized by the IFS and STICERD.

IFS-STICERD Public Economics seminars are held on Wednesdays in term time at 16:30-17:30 ONLINE or at 12.30-12.45 IN PERSON at the IFS.

Seminar organisers: Stuart Adam (IFS), Monica Costa Dias (IFS), Xavier Jaravel (LSE), Camille Landais (LSE), Attila Lindner (UCL), Joana Naritomi (LSE), and Johannes Spinnewijn (LSE).

For further information please contact Lubala Chibwe, either by email:

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