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A field study of age discrimination in the workplace: the importance of gender and race‒pay the gap

Nick Drydakis (Faculty of Business and Law, Centre for Pluralist Economics, Anglia Ruskin University–Cambridge Campus, Cambridge, UK)
Anna Paraskevopoulou (Faculty of Business and Law, Centre for Pluralist Economics, Anglia Ruskin University–Cambridge Campus, Cambridge, UK)
Vasiliki Bozani (Economics Research Centre, University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 27 September 2022

Issue publication date: 1 February 2023

3115

Abstract

Purpose

The study examines whether age intersects with gender and race during the initial stage of the hiring process and affects access to vacancies outcomes and wage sorting.

Design/methodology/approach

In order to answer the research question, the study collects data from four simultaneous field experiments in England. The study compares the labour market outcomes of younger White British men with those of older White British men and women, and with those of older Black British men and women. The study concentrates on low-skilled vacancies in hospitality and sales in the private sector.

Findings

The results of this study indicate that older White British men and women, as well as older Black British men and women, experience occupational access constraints and are sorted into lower-paid jobs than younger White British men. The level of age discrimination is found to be higher for Black British men and women. In addition, Black British women experience the highest level of age discrimination. These patterns may well be in line with prejudices against racial minority groups and stereotypical sexist beliefs that the physical strengths and job performance of women decline earlier than those do for men.

Practical implications

If prejudices against older individuals are present, then anti-discrimination legislation may be the appropriate response, especially for racial minorities and women. Eliminating age discrimination in selection requires firms to adopt inclusive human resources (HR) policies at the earliest stages of the recruitment process.

Originality/value

This research presents for the first-time comparisons of access to vacancies and wage sorting between younger male racial majorities and older male racial majorities, older female racial majorities, older male racial minorities, and older female racial minorities. In addition, the driven mechanism of the assigned differences is explored. Because the study has attempted to minimise the negative employer stereotypes vis-à-vis older employees, with respect to the employees' motivation, productivity, and health, such prejudices against older individuals may be considered taste-based discrimination.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the journal's Editor-in-Chief, Dr Dennis Nickson, the journal's Associate Editor Dr Wendy Loretto, and two anonymous reviewers for feedback on the manuscript.

Citation

Drydakis, N., Paraskevopoulou, A. and Bozani, V. (2023), "A field study of age discrimination in the workplace: the importance of gender and race‒pay the gap", Employee Relations, Vol. 45 No. 2, pp. 304-327. https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-06-2021-0277

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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