Discrimination Facing Immigrant Job Applicants in Poland - Results of a Field Experiment

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 9:45 AM
Room: Booth 42
Distributed Paper
Kinga WYSIENSKA , Research Group on Comparative Analysis of Social Inequality, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
Zbigniew KARPINSKI , The Team for the Study of Social Structure, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
In the ‘global race for talent,’ many factors can affect the attractiveness of a particular country for migrants, including the likelihood of securing employment commensurate with their qualifications. Empirical data, however, show that immigrant status and/or ethnicity act as stratifying mechanisms, and can contribute to inequality in the chances of migrants’ securing adequate employment versus those of native workers. Whether this inequality is affected by factors related to the labor supply side (e.g., differences in skills) or by the labor demand side (e.g., discrimination by employers) often remains unclear. It is also an open question whether migrant status plays a similar role in homogenous nations where there are no established foreign-born ethnic or immigrant groups as it does in nations with a long history of immigration. In order to investigate whether and to what extent there is an ‘immigrant and ethnic hiring penalty’ in the primary labor market of one of these ‘new immigration’ countries -- Poland -- we conducted a natural experiment. Ostensibly on behalf of potential employees, we sent over 3,500 applications in response to job advertisements. The candidates were equivalent in their human capital, but differed in their ethnic and national backgrounds. The results show a statistically significant net discrimination against immigrants. However, contrary to our predictions, discrimination against ‘white immigrants’ is stronger than that against ‘ethnic immigrants’. We also observed different levels of discrimination against immigrant men and women, depending on the type of the job and size of the company. Specifically, there is greater discrimination against immigrant females applying for typical female-type jobs, whereas the likelihood of discrimination is higher among immigrant males applying to large companies. We discuss possible explanations of the observed effects, with particular focus on predictions from economic theories of statistical discrimination and from the status characteristics theory of double standards.