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Meta-Analysis of Field Experiments Shows Significantly More Racial Discrimination in Job Offers than in Callbacks (WP-18-28)

Lincoln Quillian, John Lee, and Mariana Oliver

Field experiments using fictitious applications have become an increasingly important method for assessing hiring discrimination. Most field experiments of hiring, however, only observe whether the applicant receives an invitation to interview, called the “callback.” How adequate is our understanding of racial discrimination in the hiring process based on an assessment of differences in callback rates, when the ultimate subject of interest is discrimination in job offers? To address this question, the researchers perform a statistical meta-analysis of all available field experimental studies of racial discrimination in hiring that go to the job offer outcome. Their sample includes 12 studies encompassing more than 8,300 job applications. They find significant additional discrimination in hiring after the callback: Majority applicants in our sample receive 52% more callbacks than comparable minority applicants, but majority applicants receive 128% more job offers than comparable minority applicants. The additional discrimination from interview to job offer is uncorrelated with the level of discrimination earlier in the hiring process. The researchers conclude by discussing the substantive and methodological implications of our findings.

Lincoln Quillian, Professor of Sociology and IPR Fellow, Northwestern University

John Lee, Graduate student in Sociology, Northwestern University

Mariana Oliver, Graduate student in Sociology, Northwestern University

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