Disability Disadvantage: Experimental Evidence of Hiring Discrimination against Wheelchair Users
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Disability is associated with persistent labour market disadvantages. What is not clear is the extent to which these disadvantages result from employers’ discriminatory hiring decisions. Although observational research and laboratory experiments provide indicative evidence of its existence, few studies have used randomized field experiments such as correspondence studies to investigate the occurrence of disability discrimination. This article extends current knowledge by presenting the results of a correspondence study used to measure discrimination against wheelchair users in a new context: the Norwegian labour market. In the experiment, 1,200 fictitious applications with randomly assigned information about the applicants’ disability status were sent in pairs to 600 private sector employers with job openings. The experiment documents negative effects of disability on callbacks from employers across various occupations. The findings suggest that discrimination in hiring processes is a mechanism through which disability-related inequality in employment outcomes is perpetuated.