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Older Workers Need Not Apply? Ageist Language in Job Ads and Age Discrimination in Hiring

Ian Burn (), Patrick Button (), Luis Munguia Corella and David Neumark ()
Additional contact information
Luis Munguia Corella: University of California, Irvine
David Neumark: University of California, Irvine

No 13506, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: We study the relationships between ageist stereotypes – as reflected in the language used in job ads – and age discrimination in hiring, exploiting the text of job ads and differences in callbacks to older and younger job applicants from a resume (correspondence study) field experiment (Neumark, Burn, and Button, 2019). Our analysis uses methods from computational linguistics and machine learning to directly identify, in a field-experiment setting, ageist stereotypes that underlie age discrimination in hiring. The methods we develop provide a framework for applied researchers analyzing textual data, highlighting the usefulness of various computer science techniques for empirical economics research. We find evidence that language related to stereotypes of older workers sometimes predicts discrimination against older workers. For men, our evidence points to age stereotypes about all three categories we consider – health, personality, and skill – predicting age discrimination, and for women, age stereotypes about personality. In general, the evidence is much stronger for men, and our results for men are quite consistent with the industrial psychology literature on age stereotypes.

Keywords: ageist stereotypes; age discrimination; job ads; machine learning (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J14 J7 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 59 pages
Date: 2020-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-age, nep-big, nep-cmp, nep-exp, nep-lma and nep-ltv
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