When Do Chinese Firms Advertising on Internet Job Boards Discriminate in their Hiring Practices?

Published on: 2015-10-02

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Abstract / Seminar Summary

In this seminar, Prof. Margaret Maurer-Fazio will report results from three large‐scale field experiments that investigate how real Chinese firms respond to job applications received from fictitious applicants whose resume characteristics are purposefully crafted to vary only in terms of the specific characteristics being considered.

In the first study Prof. Maurer-Fazio and her team focused on ethnicity, as denoted by means of names that are typically Han Chinese and distinctively Mongolian, Tibetan, and Uighur. Prof. Maurer-Fazio and her team found significant differences in the callback rates by ethnicity and that these differences varied systematically across ethnic groups. Not all firms discriminated – approximately half treated all candidates equally. State-owned firms were significantly less likely than privately‐owned firms to discriminate against minorities.

The second study explored how both gender and facial attractiveness affected job candidates’ chances of obtaining interviews. It examined how discrimination based on these attributes varied over occupation, location, and firms’ ownership type and size. We found sizable differences in the interview callback rates of attractive and unattractive job candidates. Job candidates with unattractive faces needed to put in substantially more applications than their attractive counterparts to obtain the same number of interview callbacks.

The third study, which focused on women’s marital and employment status, found no evidence of discrimination based on either unemployment status or marital status in the hiring practices of the firms who advertised their job openings on China’s main Internet job boards. There was, however, clear evidence that HR managers were carefully reading resumes and making distinctions between the desirable and undesirable characteristics of applicants.

About the Speaker

Margaret Maurer-Fazio is the Betty Doran Stangle Professor of Applied Economics at Bates College and a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). She holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pittsburgh and both an M.A. and Honors B.A. in economics from the University of Western Ontario. She serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Contemporary China and Eurasian Geography and Economics and on the advisory board of the Chinese Women Economists Network.
Maurer-Fazio’s research program focuses on labor market developments in China. Her most recent work includes: (1) a series of papers on China’s rural elders (their work to “retirement” transitions, the relationship between their co-residency with adult children and happiness, and the extent, causes and consequences of being “left behind” when adult children migrate) and; (2) a series of resume (correspondence) audit studies, which focus on the role of ethnicity, facial attractiveness, and employment status in the hiring practices of Chinese firms using Internet job boards.

Her CV can be found here.

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