Hiring discrimination levels are highest in this country, study finds

France outpaces six other European countries, as well as the U.S. and Canada, in racial discrimination in hiring, according to a new study.

The authors of the study looked at data from 97 studies in nine countries, including more than 200,000 job applications, to examine the magnitude of discrimination in different countries. They compared the percentage of callbacks for jobs members of white majority groups received and the percentage of callbacks members of minority racial and ethnic groups received. The study was published in Sociological Science, a peer-reviewed journal, this week.

France had the highest “discrimination ratio” — 43 percent higher than the U.S., the study found. Sweden followed close behind with a discrimination ratio 30 percent higher than the U.S. Minority applicants in those countries would have to distribute 70 to 94 percent more resumes to potential employers than white applicants to get the same number of responses.

Belgium, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Canada also had larger levels of discrimination than the U.S., though authors of the study said the differences among them were not statistically significant.

Northwestern University sociologist Lincoln Quillian, the lead author of the study, said some laws and institutional practices in the U.S. explain why it had lower levels of discrimination.

“No other countries require monitoring of the racial and ethnic makeup of ranks of employees as is required for large employers in the U.S.,” Quillian said in an online statement. “For instance, large employers in the U.S. are required to report the race and ethnicity of employees at different ranks to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”

Only Germany had less discrimination than the U.S., the study found. Still, neither country was free of discrimination. Minority applicants in the U.S. and Germany had to send out 25 to 40 percent more resumes than white applicants to get an equal number of responses.


Job applicants in Germany submit additional documents like high school grades and apprenticeship reports. Quillian said he suspects having more information about applicants reduces “the tendency to view minority applicants as less good or unqualified.”

Conversely, France forbids employers from asking about an applicant’s race. Having more information about applicants gives employers less room to project their own views or stereotypes, according to Quillian.