Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hiring Discrimination and Religion: Recent Studies

    Although hiring discrimination by employers is infrequently litigated, audit studies—using fictional resumes—continue to show that it persists.   A recent contribution to this literature focuses on religious affiliation: Michael Wallace, Bradley R.E. Wright,  and Allen Hyde, “Religious Affiliation and Hiring Discrimination in the American South: A Field Experiment,” Social Currents 1(2) (2014): 189-207 (here).  Here’s the abstract:

This article describes a field experiment in which we sent fictitious résumés to advertised job openings throughout the American South. We randomly altered the résumés to indicate affiliation in one of seven religious groups or a control group. We found that applicants who expressed a religious identity were 26 percent less likely to receive a response from employers. In general, Muslims, pagans, and atheists suffered the highest levels of discriminatory treatment from employers, a fictitious religious group and Catholics experienced moderate levels, evangelical Christians encountered little, and Jews received no discernible discrimination. We also found evidence suggesting the possibility that Jews received preferential treatment over other religious groups in employer responses. The results fit best with models of religious discrimination rooted in secularization theory and cultural distaste theory. We briefly discuss what our findings suggest for a more robust theory of prejudice and discrimination in society.

For a companion study, see Bradley R.E. Wright et al., “Religious Affiliation and Hiring Discrimination in New England: A Field Experiment,” Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 34 (Dec. 2013): 111-126.

 

--Sachin Pandya

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Employment Discrimination, Scholarship | Permalink

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