Race Bias in Hiring: When Both Applicant and Employer Lose

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?


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.


“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