Discussion Paper Details

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Title: "Soft" Affirmative Action and Minority Recruitment

Author(s): Daniel Fershtman and Alessandro Pavan

Publication Date: July 2020

Keyword(s): affirmative action, learning from endogenous consideration sets, Recruitment and sequential evaluations

Programme Area(s): Labour Economics and Public Economics

Abstract: We study search, evaluation, and selection of candidates of unknown quality for a position. We examine the effects of "soft" affirmative action policies increasing the relative percentage of minority candidates in the candidate pool. We show that, while meant to encourage minority hiring, such policies may backfire if the evaluation of minority candidates is noisier than that of non-minorities. This may occur even if minorities are at least as qualified and as valuable as non-minorities. The results provide a possible explanation for why certain soft affirmative action policies have proved counterproductive, even in the absence of (implicit) bias.

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Bibliographic Reference

Fershtman, D and Pavan, A. 2020. '"Soft" Affirmative Action and Minority Recruitment'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.