School of Management and Labor Relations
94 Rockafeller Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|September 2015||The Disability Employment Puzzle: A Field Experiment on Employer Hiring Behavior|
with Mason Ameri, Lisa Schur, Meera Adya, Patrick McKay, Douglas Kruse: w21560
People with disabilities have low employment and wage levels, and some studies suggest employer discrimination is a contributing factor. Following the method of Bertrand and Mullainathan (2003), new evidence is presented from a field experiment that sent applications in response to 6,016 advertised accounting positions from well-qualified fictional applicants, with one-third of cover letters disclosing that the applicant has a spinal cord injury, one-third disclosing the presence of Asperger’s Syndrome, and one-third not mentioning disability. These specific disabilities were chosen because they would not be expected to limit productivity in accounting, helping rule out productivity-based explanations for any differences in employer responses. Half of the resumes portrayed a novice acco...