Do 'ban the box' policies help or hurt low-skilled workers?
<![CDATA[Research published recently by Jennifer Doleac, an assistant professor of public policy and economics at the University of Virginia, found that ban the box policies actually lowered the probability of employment by 5.1 percent for young, low-skilled black men and 2.9 percent for young, low-skilled Hispanic men. According to Doleac, who conducted the study with the University of Oregon’s Benjamin Hansen, the lowered chance for employment comes from the unwillingness by employers to take chances on hiring someone without knowledge of their potential criminal history. “Simply taking away information about whether someone has a record doesn’t stop employers from caring about someone’s criminal background,” Doleac said. “It just leaves them to guess based on the remaining information they do have.” The results of the study did not surprise Doleac. “I’ve done work on discrimination in the past and the first thing that jumped into my mind when I heard about ‘ban the box’ was, ‘This is going to backfire. This is just going to result in statistical discrimination against groups that are more likely to have criminal records’”. The report was published in July and NELP has been quick to respond, providing an analysis of such studies that criticize ban the box policies. This analysis led to these conclusions:
- The core problem raised by the studies is not ban-the-box but entrenched racism in the hiring process, which manifests as racial profiling of African Americans as “criminals.”
- Ban-the-box is working, both by increasing employment opportunities for people with records and by changing employer attitudes toward hiring people with records.
- When closely scrutinized, the new studies do not support the conclusion that ban-the-box policies are responsible for the depressed hiring of African Americans.
- The studies highlight the need for a more robust policy response to both boost job opportunities for people with records and tackle race discrimination in the hiring process—not a repeal of ban-the-box laws.
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