August 24, 2015

Older workers face discrimination in recruitment process, says study

Older job applicants are significantly less likely to be invited to a job interview than younger people with similar qualifications, according to a UK study.

Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University submitted applications for over 1,800 jobs over a two-year period for fictitious applicants aged either 28 or 50, but with similar skills and experience. They found that the older candidates were 4.2 times less likely to be invited to interview.

There was also a significant gender difference: older female applicants were 5.3 times less likely to get an interview than their younger equivalents, whereas older male applicants were only 3.6 times less likely.

The study was commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) magazine People Management and led by Nick Drydakis, who has previously written for IZA World of Labor about sexual orientation and labor market outcomes.

Dr Drydakis commented that: “Our study suggests that work is becoming less age-friendly, not more, and that older people have to spend more time and effort than younger people to obtain an interview … Those involved in recruiting need to be trained to carry out age-sensitive selection processes, and the government should require firms to have ‘ageing at work’ policies.”

He added that: “With an ageing population and the official retirement age creeping upwards, this is an issue that needs to be tackled.”

Dan-Olof Rooth has written for IZA World of Labor about correspondence testing studies as a means of identifying discrimination in the recruitment process. He writes that: “Its results are important for guiding anti-discrimination policies and to inform employers about their actions. However, its help in understanding group differences in unemployment is limited, since the behavior of the supply side of the labor market is not investigated.”

Ulf Rinne has also written for us about anonymous job applications and hiring discrimination, arguing that: “When implemented effectively, anonymous job applications level the playing field in access to jobs by shifting the focus toward skills and qualifications. Anonymous job applications should not, however, be regarded as a universal remedy that is applicable in any context or that can prevent any form of discrimination.”

Read more on this story at the Telegraph. The study is published in the August 2015 issue of People Management.

Related articles:
Correspondence testing studies by Dan-Olof Rooth
Anonymous job applications and hiring discrimination by Ulf Rinne

Find more IZA World of Labor articles about human resource management practices here