Age Discrimination Across the Business Cycle

61 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2020 Last revised: 13 May 2021

See all articles by Gordon B. Dahl

Gordon B. Dahl

UC San Diego - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Rochester - Department of Economics

Matthew Knepper

University of Georgia

Date Written: July 2020

Abstract

We test whether age discrimination rises during recessions using two complemen-tary analyses. EEOC microdata reveal that age-related firing and hiring charges rise by 3.4% and 1.4%, respectively, for each percentage point increase in a state-industry’s monthly unemployment. Though the opportunity cost of filing falls, the fraction of meritorious claims increases—a sufficient condition for rising discrimination under mild assumptions. Second, we repurpose data from a hiring correspondence study conducted across different cities and time periods during the recovery from the Great Recession. Each percentage point increase in local unemployment reduces the callback rate for older versus younger women by 15%.

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Suggested Citation

Dahl, Gordon B. and Knepper, Matthew, Age Discrimination Across the Business Cycle (July 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27581, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3661073

Gordon B. Dahl (Contact Author)

UC San Diego - Department of Economics ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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University of Rochester - Department of Economics

Harkness Hall
Rochester, NY 14627
United States

Matthew Knepper

University of Georgia ( email )

Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States

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