Race Bias in Hiring: When Both Applicant and Employer Lose

Drawing of two men holding up resumes -- on the left is a white man in a prison jumpsuit, named Greg; the other is a Black man in a business suit, named Tyrone.

In a groundbreaking study, sociologist Devah Pager showed that being Black hurts an applicant's chances of being hired just as much as a felony conviction. What do decisions based on gut instincts mean for the survival of a business?

References

Bertrand, M. & Mullainathan, S. (2004). Are Emily and Greg more employable than Lakisha and Jamal?: A field experiment on labor market discrimination. American Economic Review, 94(4), 991-1013.

Pager, D. (2003). The mark of a criminal record. American Journal of Sociology, 108(5), 937-975.

Pager, D., Western, B., & Sugie, N. (2009). Sequencing disadvantage: Barriers to employment facing young black and white men with criminal records. The Annals of the American Academy of Political andn Social Science, 623(1), 195-213.

Pager, D. (2016). Are firms that discriminate more likely to go out of business? Sociological Science, 3, 849-859.

Credits

“Race bias in hiring: when both applicants and employers lose” was created and developed by Olivia Kang, Kirsten Morehouse, Evan Younger, and Mahzarin Banaji. Outsmarting Human Minds is supported by Harvard University, PwC, and Johnson & Johnson.

Narration by Olivia Kang, featuring Professor Devah Pager (Harvard University)
Sound editing and mixing was conducted by Evan Younger
Music was composed by Miracles of Modern Science
Artwork by Olivia Kang

© 2019 President and Fellows of Harvard University