Two economists, one from the University of Virginia and the other from the University of Oregon, conducted a study of “ban the box” laws that restrict employers from figuring out whether job applicants have criminal records.
So it sounds very compassionate to impose these laws, right? Who could object to helping ex-cons get in the door for interviews, at which point they can hopefully show potential employers that they have value.
Well, the study shows that these laws hurt more than they help. Here are some passages from the abstract.
We find that BTB policies decrease the probability of being employed by 3.4 percentage points (5.1%) for young, low-skilled black men, and by 2.3 percentage points (2.9%) for young, low-skilled Hispanic men. These findings support the hypothesis that when an applicant’s criminal history is unavailable, employers statistically discriminate against demographic groups that are likely to have a criminal record.