Age, Women, and Hiring: An Experimental Study

Joanna N. Lahey

WP#2006-23

Abstract

As the baby boom cohort reaches retirement age, demographic pressures on public programs such as Social Security may cause policy makers to cut benefits and encourage employment at later ages. This prospect raises the question of how much employer demand exists for older workers. This paper reports on a labor market experiment to determine the hiring conditions for older women in entry-level jobs in Boston, MA and St. Petersburg, FL. Differential interviewing by age is found for these jobs. A younger worker is more than 40 percent more likely to be offered an interview than is an older worker. No evidence is found to support taste-based discrimination as a reason for this differential, and some suggestive evidence is found to support statistical discrimination.