Ban the Box, Criminal Records, and Racial Discrimination: A Field Experiment

Some argue Ban the Box policies are harmful to Black men: prior to BTB, white applicants were 7% more likely than comparable Black applicants to receive a callback; after BTB was implemented, that gap grew to 43%. This audit study of employer hiring practices used 15,000 fake online applications to analyze the racial impacts of Ban the Box policies in New Jersey and New York. The authors also analyzed employer considerations of education level, which is more strongly correlated with criminal record than race. This analysis indicated that the discrimination against Black applicants is based on racial stereotypes, not statistical correlations with criminal records. In other words, this study affirms what other studies have found: employers unfairly associate Blackness with criminality.


Agan, A., & Starr, S. (2018). Ban the Box, Criminal Records, and Racial Discrimination: A Field Experiment. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 133(1), 191–235. https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjx028

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Open Access Source: https://booksc.org/book/66130735/86747b

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