Trends in racial and ethnic discrimination in hiring in six Western countries

Lincoln Quillian*, John J. Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine trends in racial and ethnic discrimination in hiring in six European and North American countries: Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and the United States. Our sample includes all available discrimination estimates from 90 field experimental studies of hiring discrimination, encompassing more than 170,000 applications for jobs. The years covered vary by country, ranging from 1969 to 2017 for Great Britain to 1994 to 2017 for Germany. We examine trends in discrimination against four racial-ethnic origin groups: African/Black, Asian, Latin American/Hispanic, and Middle Eastern or North African. The results indicate that levels of discrimination in callbacks have remained either unchanged or slightly increased overall for most countries and origin categories. There are three notable exceptions. First, hiring discrimination against ethnic groups with origins in the Middle East and North Africa increased during the 2000s relative to the 1990s. Second, we find that discrimination in France declined, although from very high to “merely” high levels. Third, we find evidence that discrimination in the Netherlands has increased over time. Controls for study characteristics do not change these trends. Contrary to the idea that discrimination will tend to decline in Western countries, we find that discrimination has not fallen over the last few decades in five of the six Western countries we examine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2212875120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 7 2023


  • discrimination
  • inequality
  • labor markets
  • race and ethnicity
  • racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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