Labour​ market discrimination in Germany

9 June, 2018 at 09:06 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

diskriWe conducted a large-scale field experiment to investigate the drivers of discrimination against second generation immigrant job applicants. To these ends, we sent thousands of applications from fictitious persons to real job openings in eight professions all over Germany. Next to job applicants’ ethnicity (German or migration background in one out of 34 origin countries), phenotype (Asian, Black, White), and religious affiliation (none, Buddhist or Hindu, Christian, or Muslim), we varied several other characteristics of the applications, such as applicants’ gender, final grades, whether or not a reference letter was included, as well as information about applicants’ current contract. Our results confirm that employers discriminate against immigrant job applicants. The magnitude of discrimination, however, varies strongly between origin groups. Whereas employers do not discriminate against Western and Southern European and East Asian immigrants, other origin groups experience significant disadvantages. In addition, we observe substantial disadvantages for Black and Muslim job applicants. With respect to classic theories about the drivers of discrimination on the labor market, that is, taste-based and statistical discrimination, we find that the cultural distance between origin countries and Germany explains discrimination against different groups much better than productivity-related group characteristics, such as average levels of education. Consequently, our empirical findings are more supportive of taste-based discrimination than they are of statistical discrimination theories.



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  1. Charles Tilly found the same twenty years ago (Durable inequality, Unversity of California Press, 1998). Those who have found a water-hole don’t like to invite just anybody from the street to share it, but prefer people who have some relation already,

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