Research Press Release

Sociology: Hiring discrimination against individuals from minority ethnic groups in Switzerland


January 21, 2021

Jobseekers who are from immigrant and minority ethnic groups face between 4 and 19% lower contact rates from recruiters using an online Swiss hiring platform, according to a paper published this week in Nature. The research also finds evidence of gender-based discrimination.

Women and individuals from minority ethnic groups experience negative labour market outcomes in many economies around the world, but the extent to which discrimination is responsible for these effects, and the channels through which they occur, is contested. Correspondence tests, wherein researchers send fictitious CVs that are identical except for including jobseeker names that are deemed to sound Black versus white, are an increasingly common method to quantify discrimination in hiring practices; however, they can usually only focus on a few variables at a time.

Dominik Hangartner and colleagues developed an approach to examine hiring discrimination that combines the tracking of recruiters’ search behaviour on an employment website and machine learning to control for all relevant jobseeker characteristics that are visible to recruiters. The authors applied this method to the recruitment platform of the Swiss public employment service, which is the main platform for jobseekers in Switzerland (85% of all jobseekers registered as unemployed have a profile on this platform). The authors found that, depending on their country of origin, individuals from immigrant and minority ethnic groups experience 4–19% lower contact rates than native Swiss citizens. Women experience 7% lower contact rates in male-dominated professions, and the opposite pattern emerges for men in female-dominated professions.

The authors conclude that their approach can provide a cost-efficient, non-intrusive tool that researchers and policy-makers can use to monitor hiring discrimination and inform strategies to counter it.


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