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Ethnic Penalties In Western Labour Markets

Contributions, Explanations, Critiques

Arnfinn H. Midtbøen

Abstract

This article reviews the comparative literature on ethnic penalties in Western labour markets. Although there is considerable variation between ethnic groups, immigrants and descendants, and across national contexts in terms of the magnitude of ethnic penalties, ethnic minorities of non-European origin experience disadvantages in all contexts. Discussing the striking cross-national variation, I highlight the impact of the economy, legacies of immigration policies, historically different citizenship regimes and the occurrence of selectivity in educational systems. In explaining why ethnic disadvantage occurs in all contexts, I pay particular attention to the role of discrimination in employment.

Open access

Arnfinn H. Midtbøen and Jon Rogstad

Abstract

Field experiments have proved productive in documenting the continuing relevance of race and ethnicity in the shaping of opportunities in modern societies. However, methodological questions have been raised concerning the existence of unobservable variables and the subsequent danger of drawing inferences on a wrong basis. In this article, we address these debates and discuss a research strategy which to a large degree exceeds the challenges posed in the literature. By supplementing a correspondence test study with in-depth interviews with employers who were subjected to the fictitious job applicants in the experiment, we get access to the extent of discrimination in the labour market as well as to the mechanisms involved in discriminatory hiring practices. The design has several advantages compared to ‘singlemethod’ approaches and provides a more substantial understanding of the processes leading to ethnic inequality in the labour market.

Open access

Arnfinn H Midtbøen, Nina Gren, MA Kaisa Nissi, Aleksandra Jolkina and Saara Koikkalainen