US study finds age discrimination in employment much stronger for women

Unemployed womanResearchers in the United States have conducted a new kind of study to assess the extent of age discrimination in the American labour market. Researchers sent out more than 40,000 CVs with different profiles, comparing response rates for men and women, but also for different age groups where profiles have similar skills levels for a job. As a result, age discrimination was very prevalent, but even more so for women.

Combined age and gender discrimination: 50% less women called in for an interview

The research covered different sectors in which both older and younger candidates can be expected for a position. As a result, workers between 49 and 51 received 18 % fewer calls for an interview than those aged 29-31. For 64 to 66, 35 % less received no call. Astonishing about the study is the gender difference: for older women (54-55), the difference increased to 47 %. Age discrimination was therefore much stronger for women.

New kind of research method

The Washington Post related a working paper from the US National Bureau of Economic Research. In the study, different mock profiles of applicants were drawn up. Care was taken to create job profiles of different age group for the same position, but with equal levels of skills and competences. For older applicant profiles, additional years in working life were filled with, for example, a first careers whose skills are more difficult to transfer. This way, a bias of earlier studies was avoided – in earlier studies, candidate profiles had different ages, but exactly the same job experience. As a result, profiles of older applicants were disadvantaged because of blanks in the career history.

For more information, please contact Philippe Seidel at the AGE Secretariat:

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