Ban the Box Policies and Unintended Discriminatory Effects
It is well established that a major contributing factor to the high incarceration rate of the United States is recidivism and that an important factor in its prevention is access to quality employment opportunities. However, individuals with criminal convictions face high unemployment, as employers are less willing to hire an individual viewed as a risk as an employee. In an effort to address high unemployment for previously incarcerated individuals, policymakers have instituted Ban the Box policies, which ban employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal background on an initial job application. However, recent research efforts indicate there may be unintended consequences of the policy regarding statistical discrimination and spillover effects: When information about criminal background is removed from applications, employers may refrain from hiring individuals with characteristics—often race, age, and gender—they associate with having a criminal background. This research uses a differences-in-differences approach to look at the probability of employment for Black and white populations before and after a private sector Ban the Box law was implemented statewide. The main regression focuses on Oregon, which finds that the institution of a Ban the Box law is negatively associated with the probability of employment for the Black population of Oregon and positively associated with probability of white employment. Additional regressions were conducted for Minnesota and New Jersey to test for validity across different regions of the United States and found similar results. This research confirms previous literature that Ban the Box policies may result in lower employment for Black populations, regardless of criminal background history, due to employer discrimination.
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Ensuring That Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies of Practices in Violation of Federal Law. Final Rule Unknown author (United States. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of the Secretary, 2008-12-19)