Discrimination in the Credential Society: An Audit Study of Race and College Selectivity in the Labor Market

S. Michael Gaddis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Despite rapid expansion of U.S. higher education, little research has focused on the effects of race and college selectivity in the labor market for recent college graduates. Theoretical explanations of educational opportunities suggest that as the pool of job candidates grows quantitatively similar in terms of total educational attainment, qualitative aspects such as college selectivity should have more influence on hiring decisions. This project examines employment opportunities for white and black graduates of elite vs less selective institutions. I use an experimental audit design to apply for 1,008 jobs online. The results suggest that credentials do not equalize employment opportunities by race, even among elite university graduates. Black candidates from elite universities only do as well as white candidates from less selective universities. Moreover, race results in a double penalty: when employers respond to black candidates it is for jobs with lower starting salaries than what their white peers receive.

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Presented in Session 95: Race and Gender Inequality in Economic Outcomes