Working Paper Series
IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy
The effect of age and gender on labor demand – evidence from a field experiment
() and Stefan Eriksson
Abstract: In most countries, there are systematic age and gender
differences in labor market outcomes. Older workers and women often have
lower employment rates, and the duration of unemployment increases with
age. These patterns may reflect age and gender differences in either labor
demand (i.e. discrimination) or labor supply. In this study, we investigate
the importance of demand effects by analyzing whether employers use
information about a job applicant’s age and gender in their hiring
decisions. To do this, we conducted a field experiment, where over 6,000
fictitious resumes with randomly assigned information about age (in the
interval 35-70) and gender were sent to employers with a vacancy and the
employers’ responses (callbacks) were recorded. We find that the callback
rate starts to fall substantially early in the age interval we consider.
This decline is steeper for women than for men. These results indicate that
age discrimination is a widespread phenomenon affecting workers already in
their early 40s in many occupations. Ageism and occupational skill loss due
to aging are unlikely explanations of these effects. Instead, our employer
survey suggests that employer stereotypes about three worker
characteristics – ability to learn new tasks, flexibility/adaptability, and
ambition – are important. We find no evidence of gender discrimination
against women on average, but the gender effect is heterogeneous across
occupations and firms. Women have a higher callback rate in
female-dominated occupations and firms, and when the recruiter is a woman.
These results suggest that an in-group bias affects hiring patterns, which
may reinforce the existing gender segregation in the labor market.
Keywords: age; gender; discrimination; field experiment; labor market; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: J23; J71; (follow links to similar papers)
47 pages, June 15, 2017
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