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Bad Hiring Chances for Older Workers


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It is often claimed that work opportunities decline with age, that hiring chances of older persons are poor. We investigate this by collecting questionnaire responses of personnel managers of German manufacturing firms, eliciting a hypothetical hiring decision based on three fictitious candidates. We rely on an age-neutral job and a small age-gap of 14 years between the youngest and the oldest candidate. The quasi-experimental design of the questionnaire allows to control for possible productivity differences and other economic explanations for declining hiring chances. The data show a 60 percentage point difference in hiring probabilities between the youngest and oldest candidate.
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... Widespread agreement exists that discrimination is very common in labour market integration (Adams, 2004;Büsch, Dittrich and Koenigstein, 2009), undermining the chances for certain groups in society to gain employment. Often reduced to a mere interaction between jobseekers and employers, the fact that labour market integration does not consist of a single event, but of a sequence of interactions with various actors and transitions through several phases (e.g. ...
... Ageism, defined as discriminatory practices, attitudes and perceptions regarding older people (Butler, 1969), has gained immense interest in the wake of industrialised nations' efforts to delay retirement and prolong working lives. Similar to other grounds for discrimination, such as gender or race, ageism can lead to disadvantages in the labour market, not solely but particularly for older age cohorts (Adams, 2004;Büsch, Dittrich and Koenigstein, 2009;Frerichs et al., 2012). Whereas some forms of age discrimination might be rather obvious, ageism in the labour market can also be more subtle. ...
... Whether or not one decides to fill this gap with relevant or irrelevant experience, or with periods of non-employment, these differences can influence employers' call-back decisions, confounding the measurement of age discrimination itself. Survey research of personnel managers, however, has achieved similar results (Büsch, Dittrich and Koenigstein, 2009;Büsch, Dahl and Dittrich, 2009), though with the finding that successful intergenerational contact can mitigate age discrimination (Fasbender and Wang, 2017). ...
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the discourse on labour market discrimination by introducing an analytical process model that offers a template for the systematic analysis of discrimination within the process of labour market integration. Its usage and contribution to the field is exemplified by applying the proposed model to the case of ageism in labour market integration. Design/methodology/approach - Five phases and four actors are distinguished that, added together, compose the proposed analytical process model. In the following, the model is used as an analytical framework for a mapping review, aimed at identifying and critically evaluating the vast and extensive literature on ageism in the process of labour market integration. Findings - The paper concludes that ageism occurs in all five phases of the integration process, pinpointing potential areas for policy interventions. Furthermore, the authors conclude that the existing literature on ageism in labour market integration is fragmented, with some elements and/or actors within the process so far having received little attention. Originality/value - The analytical process model developed in this paper provides the scientific community with a tool to systematise the literature, detect underlying mechanisms and uncover existing research gaps, not only for the case of ageism presented here, but for a vast variety of other-isms. In addition, policy makers, trade unions and employers can use the model to better target and tailor anti-discrimination measures in labour market integration.
... In the Scandinavian country, age was shown to only have a minor role in the selection process, resulting in better hiring chances of older applicants than in Germany. In another study, Büsch, Dittrich and Königstein (2009) presented applicant profiles to German HR managers in manufacturing firms relating to an age-neutral position. ...
... Even with the most objective recruitment method in place, subjective assessments of candidates guided by prejudices and stereotypes might be in place at the time of hire, in particular with respect to disadvantaged groups (Phelps, 1972). Discrimination is therefore more likely in the first phase of the employment relationship than in later stages (Büsch et al., 2009, Richardson et al., 2013. ...
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... Again, as a result of the AI algorithm, we found no interactions between the three factors; however, there was a statistically significant difference between ages as determined by one-way ANOVA (F(9,134) = 4.663, p <0.0001). This observation is substantiated by several other studies (e.g., Büsch, 2009;Köchling & Wehner, 2020;Raub, 2018). We observed that age bias became slightly more pronounced in the AI algorithm than in the human rater model (changes in all three factors were not statistically significant). ...
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