Skill and Context Variation in Parental Hiring Probabilities: A Correspondence Study

Last registered on January 20, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Skill and Context Variation in Parental Hiring Probabilities: A Correspondence Study
Initial registration date
March 25, 2019

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
March 31, 2019, 11:01 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
January 20, 2022, 4:52 AM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


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Primary Investigator

University of Bath

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Bath

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
ERC 680958
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This is a harmonized correspondence study on employer hiring in Finland and the UK, to compare gender differences with parental status the treatment effect. The over-arching research question has two dimensions. First, this study evaluates whether there are gender differences in relative positive callback rates for parents versus childless married individuals at an early stage of the hiring process, and if they differ across low-, medium- and high-skill occupations. Second, it uses a comparative design to generalize results across two diverse country contexts in terms of institutional support gender employment equality and maternal employment in particular. We select the same three gender-neutral occupations for analysis in each labor market, harmonizing education and work experience in each across the countries.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Cooke, Lynn Prince and Soyoung Kweon. 2022. "Skill and Context Variation in Parental Hiring Probabilities: A Correspondence Study." AEA RCT Registry. January 20.
Former Citation
Cooke, Lynn Prince, Lynn Prince Cooke and Soyoung Kweon. 2022. "Skill and Context Variation in Parental Hiring Probabilities: A Correspondence Study." AEA RCT Registry. January 20.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The outcome of interest is whether there are group differences in relative positive callback rates versus rejections, and if these differ across countries. A positive callback is a request for interview. Given that few employers formally reject unsuccessful applicants, a non-response for the duration of the study will be coded a rejection. We analyze group and country differences in requests to interview versus rejection to ascertain whether we can reject the null hypothesis that employers do not discriminate in favor of fathers or against mothers as compared with their childless peers during initial screening of the hiring process.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This is a comparative correspondence study assessing potential gender differences in hiring discrimination around parenthood in a low-, medium- and high-skilled occupation in three countries. For the comparative element of this study, the countries were selected given their variation in institutional supports for both class and gender equality. Finland has more extensive labor market institutions and policy support for dual-earning and caring. The German welfare state and tripartite labor market coordination historically supported men's role as family breadwinners. The more liberal UK welfare regime minimizes state intervention in market mechanism affecting either class or gender equality. To compare effects across skill levels, three occupations requiring different levels of education were selected that are also less gender-segregated in all three countries: call center workers, restaurant managers, and accountants.

Two sets of comparable application materials in terms of employment trajectories and accomplishments were developed for each occupation in each country based on national statistics, data bases, LinkedIn profiles, and discussions with country HR experts and recruiting professionals. The sets of application materials were harmonized to equalize number of years of post-secondary education plus work experience within occupations across countries.

External validity of instruments for each occupation has been confirmed via interviews with HR experts, whereas commensurability of sets of application materials (internal validity) has been validated with in-person student and online abs in each country with a total of 884 students.

In fielding, job advertisements will be drawn from online employment databases in each country to provide widest coverage of available jobs. We use a 2x2 within-subject design for effects of parenthood (i.e., for each job ad, two applications will be sent of the same gender, both of whom are married but one is randomly assigned to be a parent (treatment) and the other childless (control)). Parenthood is signaled in the personal information on the resume (doing so is still more normative in Europe). Differences in positive callback rates between men and women are investigated by means of between-subject variation. Gender is manipulated by applicant names, drawn from the most common first names in each country. To evaluate treatment effects, the study documents positive callbacks from employers, comparing group differences in requests for an interview with rejections or non-response.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
All randomization of application materials is done via a computer software program.
Randomization Unit
Which gender pair to send randomized for responding to suitable job advertisement. Individual randomization in terms of treatment, template, order sent, and for Finland and Germany, the CV photo.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Not applicable.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Responding to 500 job advertisements per occupation in each country (1000 applications sent x 3 occupations x 3 countries)=9000 applications
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
A pair of same-gender applications is sent to each of 500 job advertisements for each occupation, one being the control and the other the treatment. So of the 3000 total applications to be sent in each country, 1,500 are the treatment, and 1,500 the control. Within each country, 750 women and 750 men are in the treatment group (parent), whereas 750 men and 750 women are in the control (childless). This gives 250 women and 250 men in the treatment group in each occupation; and 250 women and 250 men in the control group in each occupation.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
The goal is to have a sufficient sample size of job ads in each occupation to yield beta=.1 (power .9) and alpha=.05 for population gender differences between affirmative call-backs for the treatment (parents) versus controls (childless) across occupations and countries. Note in existing correspondence studies this is often relaxed to beta=.2 (power .8) and alpha=.20. However, studies testing parental discrimination have not published their power calculations. As relative callback rates for parents relative to non-parents of each gender differ substantially across occupations and countries, it is difficult to do power calculations to estimate necessary sample size before piloting. The initial plan is therefore to reply to 500 job ads (1000 applications sent) for each occupation in each country as noted above. Funding is available to keep fielding into 2021 if necessary.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
European Research Council Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
ERCEA/BT/ ercea.b.1(2016)3148812
IRB Name
University of Turku Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Statement 20/2016
IRB Name
Berlin Social Science Center Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Department of Social and Policy Sciences Ethics Committee, University of Bath
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number