The Age Twist in Employers' Gender Requests: Evidence from Four Job Boards

Miguel Delgado Helleseter, Peter Kuhn, Kailing Shen

NBER Working Paper No. 22187
Issued in April 2016
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

When permitted by law, employers sometimes state the preferred age and gender of their employees in job ads. We study the interaction of advertised requests for age and gender on one Mexican and three Chinese job boards, showing that firms’ explicit gender requests shift dramatically away from women and towards men when firms are seeking older (as opposed to younger) workers. This ‘age twist’ in advertised gender preferences occurs in all four of our datasets and survives controls for occupation, firm, and job title fixed effects. Together, observed characteristics of job ads (including the job title) can account for 65 percent of the twist; within this ‘explained’ component, just three factors: employers’ requests for older men in managerial positions, and for young women in customer contact and helping positions, account for more than half. The latter requests are frequently accompanied by explicit requests for physically attractive candidates. Based on its timing, the remaining portion of the twist, which occurs within job titles, appears to be connected to a differential effect of parenthood on firms’ relative requests for men versus women.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22187

Published: Miguel Delgado Helleseter & Peter Kuhn & Kailing Shen, 2020. "The Age Twist in Employers’ Gender Requests," Journal of Human Resources, vol 55(2), pages 428-469.

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