Meta-analysis of field experiments shows no change in racial discrimination in hiring over time

Lincoln Quillian*, Devah Pager, Ole Hexel, Arnfinn H. Midtbøen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

85 Scopus citations


This study investigates change over time in the level of hiring discrimination in US labor markets. We perform a meta-analysis of every available field experiment of hiring discrimination against African Americans or Latinos (n = 28). Together, these studies represent 55,842 applications submitted for 26,326 positions. We focus on trends since 1989 (n = 24 studies), when field experiments became more common and improved methodologically. Since 1989, whites receive on average 36% more callbacks than African Americans, and 24% more callbacks than Latinos. We observe no change in the level of hiring discrimination against African Americans over the past 25 years, although we find modest evidence of a decline in discrimination against Latinos. Accounting for applicant education, applicant gender, study method, occupational groups, and local labor market conditions does little to alter this result. Contrary to claims of declining discrimination in American society, our estimates suggest that levels of discrimination remain largely unchanged, at least at the point of hire.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10870-10875
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 10 2017



  • Discrimination
  • Ethnicity
  • Field experiments
  • Labor markets
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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