Do State Laws Protecting Older Workers from Discrimination Reduce Age Discrimination in Hiring? Evidence from a Field Experiment

J Law Econ. 2019 May;62(2):373-402. doi: 10.1086/704008.


We conduct a resume field experiment in all U.S. states to study how state laws protecting older workers from age discrimination affect age discrimination in hiring for retail sales jobs. We relate the difference in callback rates between old and young applicants to state variation in age and disability discrimination laws. These laws could boost hiring of older applicants, although they could have the unintended consequence of deterring hiring if they increase termination costs. In our preferred estimates that are weighted to be representative of the workforce, we find evidence that there is less discrimination against older men and women in states where age discrimination law allows larger damages, and more limited evidence that there is lower discrimination against older women in states where disability discrimination law allows larger damages. Our clearest result is that these laws do not have the unintended consequence of lowering callbacks for older workers.