September 2008

IZA DP No. 3737: Caste Based Discrimination: Evidence and Policy

published as 'Evidence on Caste-Based Discrimination' in: Labour Economics, 2011, 18 (S1), S146-S159

Caste-based quotas in hiring have existed in the public sector in India for decades. Recently there has been debate about introducing similar quotas in private sector jobs. This paper uses an audit study to determine the extent of caste-based discrimination in the Indian private sector. On average low-caste applicants need to send 20 percent more resumes than high-caste applicants to get the same callback. Differences in callback which favor high-caste applicants are particularly large when hiring is done by male recruiters or by Hindu recruiters. This finding suggests that the differences in callback between high and low-caste applicants are not entirely due to statistical discrimination. High-caste applicants are also differentially favored by firms with a smaller scale of operations, while low-caste applicants are favored by firms with a larger scale of operations. This finding is consistent with taste-based theories of discrimination and with commitments made by large firms to hire actively from among low-caste groups.