Employment Lapses and Subsequent Hiring Disadvantages: An Experimental Approach Examining Types of Discrimination and Mechanisms

These findings suggest that unemployed applicants face informational biases but that nonemployed caregiver applicants face cognitive biases that are rigid even with rich forms of positive or counter-stereotypical information

Katherine Weisshaar

2021

Scholarcy highlights

  • Employment Lapses and Labor Market OutcomesEconomists, labor market theorists, and sociologists alike generally agree that lapses from employment have the potential to cause negative short- and long-term outcomes for individuals’ careers upon employment reentry, including hiring prospects, wages, and occupational prestige
  • The U.S labor market is marked by constant volatility, with workers moving in and out of multiple jobs throughout their careers
  • Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to an explosion in the numbers of individuals out of work, periods of nonemployment have been commonplace in our modern economy for the past several decades
  • On the one hand, hiring biases could reflect a type of informational bias, in which decision makers need key pieces of positive, counter-stereotypical information to offset their stereotypical assumptions about applicants
  • If biases are due to deeply rooted cognitive biases, we would expect to see that evaluators are resistant to changing biases even with clear, positive, and relevant counter-stereotypical information about applicants
  • This study shows that ideal worker norm violations pervade hiring evaluation processes, and providing evaluators with key pieces of work and family information to counteract these ideal worker norm violations does not translate into increased hiring chances for nonemployed caregiver applicants
  • The finding that unemployed job applicants face informational biases, whereas nonemployed caregiver applicants experience more rigid cognitive biases, has theoretical implications for our understanding of hiring processes and stereotyping

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