Discrimination in Hiring: Evidence from Retail Sales

Alan Benson (University of Minnesota)
Simon Board (UCLA)
Moritz Meyer-ter-vehn (UCLA)

Abstract: Using data from a major U.S. retailer, we find that black, white and Hispanic managers within the same store are 2-3% more likely to hire workers of their own race. This segregation may be caused by taste-based discrimination, whereby managers intrinsically prefer same-race applicants, or by screening discrimination, whereby managers have better information about same-race applicants. To separate between these hypotheses we use the productivity distributions of commission-based salespeople. We find workers are generally more productive when hired by a same-race manager, and that white and Hispanic workers also have lower productivity variance when hired by a same-race manager, suggesting that screening discrimination is more important than taste-based discrimination.