University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in the Labor Market: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Metropolitan Detroit

Tony Chen, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

a 2006 CLOSUP Small Grants Program award

Abstract:
Observational and audit studies have produced fairly compelling evidence of racial and ethnic discrimination in the contemporary labor market, but many critics remain unconvinced. This project is a field experiment (buidling on the pioneering work of Bertrand and Mullainathan) that is designed to generate new experimental data about racial and ethnic discrimination in metropolitcan Detroit labor markets. It involves responding to local job ads with fictitious resumes containing randomly assigned characteristics: white-sounding versus black- or ethnic-sounding name, suburban versus urban residence, and suburban versus urban high school degree. The resulting evidence will shed clear light on the existence, magnitude, and sources of labor market discrimination.

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