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The Disability Employment Puzzle: A Field Experiment on Employer Hiring Behavior
Last registered on September 02, 2015

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
The Disability Employment Puzzle: A Field Experiment on Employer Hiring Behavior
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0000830
Initial registration date
September 02, 2015
Last updated
September 02, 2015 6:18 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Rutgers University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Rutgers University
PI Affiliation
Rutgers University
PI Affiliation
Syracuse University
PI Affiliation
Rutgers University
PI Affiliation
Rutgers University
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2013-06-01
End date
2013-08-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
People with disabilities have low employment and wage levels, and some studies suggest employer discrimination is a contributing factor. Following the method of Bertrand and Mullainathan (2003), new evidence is presented from a field experiment that sent applications in response to 6,016 advertised accounting positions from well-qualified fictional applicants, with one-third of cover letters disclosing that the applicant has a spinal cord injury, one-third disclosing the presence of Asperger’s Syndrome, and one-third not mentioning disability. These specific disabilities were chosen because they would not be expected to limit productivity in accounting, helping rule out productivity-based explanations for any differences in employer responses. Half of the resumes portrayed a novice accountant, and half portrayed an experienced one. The fictional applicants with disabilities received 26% fewer expressions of employer interest than those without disabilities, with little difference between the two types of disability. The disability gap was concentrated among more experienced applicants, and among private companies with fewer than 15 employees that are not covered by the ADA, although comparable state statutes cover about half of them. Comparisons above and below disability law coverage thresholds point to a possible positive effect of the ADA on employer responses to applicants with disabilities, but no clear effects of state laws. The overall pattern of findings is consistent with the idea that disability discrimination continues to impede employment prospects of people with disabilities, and more attention needs to be paid to employer behavior and the demand side of the labor market for people with disabilities.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Adya, Meera et al. 2015. "The Disability Employment Puzzle: A Field Experiment on Employer Hiring Behavior." AEA RCT Registry. September 02. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.830-1.0.
Former Citation
Adya, Meera et al. 2015. "The Disability Employment Puzzle: A Field Experiment on Employer Hiring Behavior." AEA RCT Registry. September 02. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/830/history/5175.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
We sent job applications in response to 6,016 advertised accounting positions from well-qualified fictional applicants, with one-third of cover letters disclosing that the applicant has a spinal cord injury, one-third disclosing the presence of Asperger’s Syndrome, and one-third not mentioning disability. These specific disabilities were chosen because they would not be expected to limit productivity in accounting, helping rule out productivity-based explanations for any differences in employer responses. Half of the resumes portrayed a novice accountant, and half portrayed an experienced one.
Intervention Start Date
2013-06-01
Intervention End Date
2013-08-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Employer response to job applications by disability status, including both callbacks for interviews and any other expression of active employer interest.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Comparisons are made by disability status of the applications, both overall and within the novice and experienced applications. In addition, to assess the effects of anti-discrimination laws, comparisons are made above and below the employment coverage thresholds for the Americans with Disabilities Act and state disability discrimination laws.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Disability status was randomly rotated through applications by computer assignment.
Randomization Unit
Individual job applications
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
6016 employers
Sample size: planned number of observations
6016 applications
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
2052 job applications did not mention disability
2019 job applications disclosed a spinal cord injury in the cover letter
1945 job applications disclosed Asperger's Syndrome in the cover letter
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Rutgers University Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2013-03-31
IRB Approval Number
#E13-606
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers