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Discrimination in the 21st Century

  • A study in Milwaukee by Northwestern University researcher Devah Pager found that overall, ex-offenders were one-third to one-half as likely to be considered for employment as an individual with a similar work history who did not have a criminal record. Black men without a criminal record were less likely to receive a call back than white men with a criminal record . White men without a record were twice as likely to receive a call-back from an employer than white men with a criminal record. Black men without a criminal record were three times as likely to be called back than black men with a criminal record 1 .
  • The Housing Discrimination Study focused on inquiries about rental and sale of housing in metropolitan markets nationwide. It found that the overall incidence of discrimination against minority home-seekers ranges from 17 percent for black homebuyers to 26 percent for Hispanic renters. This is an overall summary measure that indicates that in roughly one out of five visits to a real estate or rental office, a minority customer is not going to get as good information, as much information, as much help and assistance as a comparably qualified white customer 2 .
  • University of Chicago and MIT professors sent out 5000 equivalent resumes, with either white-sounding names (Emily Walsh, Brendan Baker) or black-sounding names (Lakisha Washington, Jamal Jones). Applicants with white-sounding names were 50 percent more likely to be called for interviews than were those with black-sounding names. Interviews were requested for 10.1 percent of applicants with white-sounding names and only 6.7 percent of those with black-sounding names.

  1. Pager, Devah. (2003). The mark of a criminal record. American Journal of Sociology , 108 (5), pp.937-976.
  2. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2000). Discrimination in Metropolitan Housing Markets: National Results from Phase 1 of the Housing Discrimination Study . Washington , DC : Author.
  3. Krueger, Alan B. Economic Scene; Sticks and stones can break bones, but the wrong name can make a job hard to find. The New York Times, December 12, 2002. Retrieved 12/17/2003 from http://www.irs.princeton.edu/krueger/names2.htm,