November 2015

IZA DP No. 9536: Hiring a Homosexual, Taking a Risk? A Lab Experiment on Employment Discrimination and Risk Aversion

revised version published as 'Hiring a Gay Man, Taking a Risk?: A Lab Experiment on Employment Discrimination and Risk Aversion' in: Journal of Homosexuality [Online Access]

We investigate risk aversion as a driver of labour market discrimination against homosexual men. We show that more hiring discrimination by more risk-averse employers is consistent with taste-based and statistical discrimination. To test this hypothesis we conduct a scenario experiment in which experimental employers make a hiring decision concerning a heterosexual or homosexual job candidate. In addition, participants are surveyed on their risk aversion and other characteristics that might correlate with this risk aversion. Analysis of the (post-)experimental data confirms our hypothesis. The probability of a beneficial hiring decision for homosexual candidates decreases by 31.7% when employers are a standard deviation more risk-averse.