Public Economics and Policy Seminar - Michael Siegenthaler (ETH Zürich)
Monitoring recruiters at work: determinants of ethnic discrimination on an online recruitment platform
Across the world, ethnic minorities face a persistent employment gap compared to natives. A large literature has explored the extent to which discrimination by employers can explain this gap. Most existing studies leverage observational data or correspondence tests focused on a small number of professions and employee characteristics. We overcome these limitations by leveraging a novel methodology: we track the search behavior of employers navigating through resumes of mostly unemployed job seekers on the online recruitment platform of the Swiss Public employment service. Based on more than 3 million observations and by controlling for all applicant information visible to recruiters, we can derive precise and credible estimates of employer discrimination in contact rates. We find pervasive evidence of ethnic discrimination and large variation in ethnic penalties. In addition, our data allows us to explore several mechanisms and moderators of discrimination. Testing for attention discrimination, we find that employers spend less time on the profiles of certain ethnic groups, but the economic effect is small. We also find that skills and labor market tightness moderate discrimination: ethnic penalties are larger for job seekers with low employability and limited German skills, and if there is a larger pool of candidates to choose from. Lastly, we find that obtaining a Swiss passport substantially reduces discrimination against immigrant job seekers.