Unintended Consequences

Now comes this unsurprising revelation from The Economist:

Forcing job applicants to declare they have a criminal record—whether or not it is relevant to the post—allows employers to filter out ex-convicts, it is argued, and prevents them finding the sort of work that would help them stay out of prison. So activists across the world have called for “ban-the-box” laws, which prohibit employers from inquiring about criminal histories prior to job interviews or offers.

Some 24 states and many municipalities in America have now introduced laws along those lines….

A paper by Jennifer Doleac of the University of Virginia and Benjamin Hansen of the University of Oregon, published on August 1st, looked at the impact of introducing ban-the-box policies on labour-market data from America’s population census. It found that withholding criminal-record data from employers encouraged them to treat certain minority groups as if they were more likely to have criminal pasts. In areas where ban-the-box laws have taken effect, the study found, the probability of being employed has fallen by 5.1% for young, low-skilled African-American men, and by 2.9% for young, low-skilled Hispanic men….

Other research backs up this conclusion. Amanda Agan of Princeton University and Sonja Starr of the University of Michigan sent 15,000 fictitious job applications to employers in New York and New Jersey. Before ban-the-box was introduced in these states, white applicants received around 7% more callbacks than similar black applicants. But when the policy took effect the gap increased to 45%.

How do you think a lot of employers cope with racial hiring quotas affirmative action? They use names and other clues to identify those applicants for employment who are black. They then weed out all but those black candidates who seem exceptionally well-qualified, and obviously better-qualified than the white or Asian candidates — which is often none. Why? Because once a black person shows up for an interview, he or she becomes a potential liability — a prospective employee who, if not hired, can file a racial discrimination claim. And it costs a lot of money to defend racial discrimination claims.

Result: Racial hiring quotas affirmative action means that fewer blacks are hired than would otherwise be the case.

*     *     *

Related posts:

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Race and Reason: The Victims of Affirmative Action