Northwestern study finds no change in discrimination against black job applicants between 1990, 2015

Ally Mauch, Assistant Campus Editor

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A Northwestern study found no change in hiring discrimination against black job applicants from 1990 to 2015.

Sociology Prof. Lincoln Quillian, senior author of the study, said the results were “both depressing and somewhat surprising.”

The study, published Sept. 12, found that white applicants received 36 percent more callbacks than black applicants with identical resumes. It also found that white applicants receive 24 percent more callbacks than Latinx applicants.

“(Hiring discrimination) is something that potentially can be addressed, although I don’t think it’s easy,” Quillian said. “It’s an entrenched set of biases that are hard to change, and in some cases employers aren’t really consciously aware of it.”

According to the study, Quillian’s team analyzed the 28 available field experiments focused on hiring discrimination against black or Latinx applicants since 1989, the earliest year with reliable data. They found a trend spanning from 1990 to 2015 that showed no change in discrimination against black applicants. However, the rate of discrimination against Latinx applicants decreased slightly in that time frame.

The study received funding from the Russell Sage Foundation, which awards grants for social science research, and from the Institute of Policy Research.

Quillian said better enforcement of anti-discrimination law could reduce hiring discrimination. He said he wants to raise awareness of discrimination in job application processes and the lack of change over time.

“A lot of people think we’re becoming post-racial, and the election of Obama kind of pushed things in that direction,” Quillian said. “But we find over this long period of time real stability in basic hiring discrimination.”

Erica Snow contributed reporting.

Email: allysonmauch2020@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @allymauch

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