Do State Laws Protecting Older Workers from Discrimination Laws Reduce Age Discrimination in Hiring? Experimental (and Nonexperimental) Evidence

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Abstract

We provide evidence from a field experiment — a correspondence study — on age discrimination in hiring for retail sales jobs. We collect experimental data in all 50 states and then relate measured age discrimination — the difference in callback rates between old and young applicants — to variation across states in antidiscrimination laws offering protections to older workers that are stronger than the federal age and disability discrimination laws. We do a similar analysis for nonexperimental data on differences across states in hiring rates of older versus younger workers. The experimental evidence points consistently to evidence of hiring discrimination against older men and more so against older women. However, the evidence on the relationship between hiring discrimination against older workers and state variation in age and disability discrimination laws is not so clear; at a minimum, there is not a compelling case that stronger state protections reduce hiring discrimination against older workers. In contrast, the nonexperimental evidence suggests that stronger disability discrimination protections increase the relative hiring of older workers.

Key Findings

  • Age discrimination may make it difficult for policymakers to increase employment of older workers.
  • Experimental data that directly measures age discrimination does not provide clear evidence that stronger laws protecting older workers from discrimination reduce measured hiring discrimination against older workers.
  • Nonexperimental data indicate that the relative hiring of older workers is higher in states with stronger protections against disability discrimination. If this relationship is causal, it could imply that even though these stronger laws do not reduce measured discrimination against older workers, they could increase employment of older workers, perhaps by changing who looks for work.

Citation

Neumark, David, Ian Burn, Patrick Button, and Nanneh Chehras. 2016. "Do State Laws Protecting Older Workers from Discrimination Laws Reduce Age Discrimination in Hiring? Experimental (and Nonexperimental) Evidence." Ann Arbor, MI. University of Michigan Retirement Research Center (MRRC) Working Paper, WP 2016-349. https://mrdrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/papers/pdf/wp349.pdf

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Paper ID

WP 2016-349

Publication Type

Working Paper

Publication Year

2016
pavement-enterprise