PhD-project: Determining discrimination - A multi-method approach to the study of employment discrimination among descendants of immigrants in Norway.
To what extent do descendants of immigrants experience discrimination in the access to labour market opportunities? How, when and why does the perceived ethnic background of job applicants become a matter of importance in employers’ decision-making? Decades of research in sociology, economics, and social psychology have dealt with these questions and great empirical, theoretical, and methodological progress has been achieved. Yet, major uncertainties remain. Statistical research and laboratory experiments cannot assess the extent to which discrimination occurs in real life recruitment processes. Furthermore, qualitative research on exclusionary processes in the labour market cannot determine the aggregate effects of these processes on labour market opportunities.
To comply with these problems in the discrimination literature, this dissertation combines a field experiment of employment discrimination with in-depth employer-interviews. By conducting a field experiment, in which hundreds of fictitious, paired résumés and application letters were sent in response to real job openings, I assess the extent to which young job candidates with Pakistani names face discrimination when applying for jobs in the Norwegian labour market. Moreover, by complementing the experimental findings with in-depth interviews with a subsample of the employers participating in the first stage of the study, I explore the mechanisms causing discrimination in employment processes. The design has several advantages compared to ‘single-method’ approaches and results in a more substantial understanding of the processes leading to ethnic inequality in the labour market.