AbstractField experiments have provided ample evidence of ethnic and racial discrimination in the labour market. Less is known about how discrimination varies in multi-ethnic societies, where the ethnic composition of populations is different across locations. Inter-group contact and institutional arrangements for ethnic minorities can mitigate the sense of group threat and reduce discrimination. To provide empirical evidence of this, we conduct a field experiment of ethnic discrimination in Russia with a sample of over 9,000 job applications. We compare ethnically homogeneous cities and cities with ethnically mixed populations and privileged institutional status of ethnic minorities. We find strong discrimination against visible minorities in the former but much weaker discrimination in the latter. These findings demonstrate how institutions and historical contexts of inter-group relations can affect ethnic prejudice and discrimination.


  • The field experiment has become a standard method for studying racial and ethnic discrimination in the labour market

  • We show that (i) ethnic discrimination in Russia is mostly directed against groups of Southern origin, with not much discrimination against groups of European origin; (ii) men from ethnic minorities face stronger discrimination compared with women; and (iii) the pattern and extent of ethnic discrimination differ across locations with varying ethnic composition of the populations and the history of ethnic inter-group relations

  • Our findings confirm the predictions derived from the literature on social dominance and ethnic hierarchies (Hagendoorn, 1995; Sidanius and Pratto, 2001) showing that the ethnic preferences of Russian employers are structured according to an implicit ethnic hierarchy, with groups of European origin preferred to groups of Southern origin

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The field experiment has become a standard method for studying racial and ethnic discrimination in the labour market. In Moscow and St. Petersburg, employers discriminate against visible ethnic minorities of Southern origin but not against groups of European origin.


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