Nav: Home

Evidence of hiring discrimination against nonwhite groups in 9 countries examined

June 17, 2019

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A new meta-analysis on hiring discrimination by Northwestern University sociologist Lincoln Quillian and his colleagues finds evidence of pervasive hiring discrimination against all nonwhite groups in all nine countries they examined. Yet some countries discriminate more than others -- and certain laws and institutional practices might explain why. The study published in Sociological Science today (June 17).

The researchers examined more than 200,000 job applications in nine different countries: Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United States.

Quillian and his colleagues measured the level of discrimination by calculating the percentage of interview callbacks a white native person received compared to a person who is not white. France and Sweden had the highest levels of hiring discrimination, while the U.S., the Netherlands and Germany had relatively lower levels.

"Clearly, there is a lot of discrimination against nonwhites in hiring in Western countries with a variety of negative effects," said Quillian, professor of sociology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a faculty fellow with the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern.

In France and Sweden, minority applicants would need to send out 70 to 94 percent more resumes than white applicants to receive the same number of responses as white applicants. In Germany and the U.S., minority applicants would need to send out 25 to 40 percent more.

The levels of discriminations were fairly similar among other nonwhite groups, including those applicants with backgrounds from Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The researchers also found low levels of discrimination against white immigrants, who are only "mildly disadvantaged" when compared to white natives of a country.

Certain laws and institutional practices explain why the U.S. had lower levels of discrimination than most of the other eight countries. More discussions about race and ethnicity take place in U.S. workplaces than in European ones, Quillian said.

"No other countries require monitoring of the racial and ethnic makeup of ranks of employees as is required for large employers in the U.S.," Quillian said. "For instance, large employers in the U.S. are required to report race and ethnicity of employees at different ranks to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission."

Nevertheless, Quillian found in a previous study he conducted no change in rates of discrimination against African-Americans in field experiments of hiring from 1990 to 2015 in the U.S.

In Germany, the country with the lowest level of racial discrimination in hiring among the nine studied, job applicants submit several documents in their applications, including high school grades and apprenticeship reports.

"We suspect that this is why we find low discrimination in Germany -- that having a lot of information at first application reduces the tendency to view minority applicants as less good or unqualified," Quillian said.

But in some countries with higher levels of hiring discrimination, like France, employers are forbidden from asking about an applicant's race.

"The French do not measure race or ethnicity in any official -- or most unofficial capacities, which makes knowledge of racial and ethnic inequality in France very limited and makes it difficult to monitor hiring or promotion for discrimination," Quillian said.

The more information employers have about applicants, Quillian offers, the less room employers have to project their own views and stereotypes onto minority applicants.
In addition to Quillian, co-authors include Anthony Heath, Centre for Social Investigation, Nuffield College; Devah Pager, Harvard University; Arnfinn H. Midtbøen, Institute for Social Research, Oslo, Norway; Fenella Fleischmann, Interdisciplinary Social Science, Utrecht University; Ole Hexel, Northwestern University and Observatoire Sociologique du Changement, Sciences Po, Paris, France.

"Do some countries discriminate more than others? Evidence from 97 field experiments of racial discrimination in hiring" published in Sociological Science 6(18).

More news at Northwestern Now
Find experts on our Faculty Experts Hub
Follow @NUSources for expert perspectives

Northwestern University

Related Discrimination Articles:

When kids face discrimination, their mothers' health may suffer
A new study is the first to suggest that children's exposure to discrimination can harm their mothers' health.
Racial discrimination in mortgage market persistent over last four decades
A new Northwestern University analysis finds that racial disparities in the mortgage market suggest that discrimination in loan denial and cost has not declined much over the previous 30 to 40 years, yet discrimination in the housing market has decreased during the same time period.
Successful alcohol, drug recovery hampered by discrimination
Even after resolving a problem with alcohol and other drugs, adults in recovery report experiencing both minor or 'micro' forms of discrimination such as personal slights, and major or 'macro' discrimination such as violation of their personal rights.
Sexual minorities continue to face discrimination, despite increasing support
Despite increasing support for the rights of people in the LGBTQ+ community, discrimination remains a critical and ongoing issue for this population, according to researchers.
Fathers may protect their LGB kids from health effects of discrimination
Lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals who report being discriminated against but who feel close to their fathers have lower levels of C-reactive protein -- a measure of inflammation and cardiovascular risk -- than those without support from their fathers, finds a new study from researchers at NYU College of Global Public Health.
Uncovering the roots of discrimination toward immigrants
Immigrants are often encouraged to assimilate into their new culture as a way of reducing conflict with their host societies, to appear less threatening to the culture and national identity of the host population.
Using artificial intelligence to detect discrimination
A new artificial intelligence (AI) tool for detecting unfair discrimination -- such as on the basis of race or gender -- has been created by researchers at Penn State and Columbia University.
Evidence of hiring discrimination against nonwhite groups in 9 countries examined
A new meta-analysis on hiring discrimination by Northwestern University sociologist Lincoln Quillian and his colleagues finds evidence of pervasive hiring discrimination against all nonwhite groups in all nine countries they examined.
Perceived discrimination associated with well-being in adults with poor vision
This study of nearly 7,700 men and women 50 or older in England looked at how common perceived discrimination was among those with visual impairment and how that was associated with emotional well-being.
Discrimination against older people needs attention, study says
Ever cracked a joke about old people? It might seem funny, but in a world where the population aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups, ageism is no laughing matter, says a University of Alberta researcher.
More Discrimination News and Discrimination Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren't. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space. In the 60's, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism. We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are. Support Radiolab today at