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Andrey Scherbak and Alexey Bessudnov Presented Results of the Research Project on Ethnic Hierarchy in the Russian Labour Market

On April, 10th, the first day of the XIXth April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, Andrey Scherbak (HSE) and Alexey Bessudnov (University of Exeter) gave a special lecture called “Ethnic Hierarchy in the Russian Labour Market”. It was held within the framework of the 8th LCSR International workshop “Quantitative Research of Social Changes Across the World”.

The researchers have conducted a field experiment in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan and Ufa, which overall lasted for half a year and involved 9 500 job applications. The applications were sent by potential employees of 10 ethnic groups, which were differentiated by gender and occupations. The choice of the cities in the study was not random since one of the aims of the study was to show that the rate of racial discrimination varies significantly across different regions in Russia. The ethnic structure of Moscow and St. Petersburg with 86 and 92 percent Russians in the overall population, respectively, strongly differs from 49% in Kazan and Ufa. Obviously, the response rate of the experimental study in the cities and regions with titular minorities is higher, compared to those not having this kind of privilege. Such manifestation of Russia’s federal system and the fact that Russia is one of the largest migrants’ receivers may be one of the reasons for different types of ethnic hierarchy.

As it was mentioned by the lecturers, this is the first large-scale experiment, based on the social psychological literature and evidencing that racial discrimination is caused more by institutional characteristics and historical background of the given country than on individual bias of the employer. Though a similar survey was held in China in 2007, it included only small groups of ethnic minorities and was based on the standard conception of personal prejudice. A. Shcherbak and A. Bessudnov attempted to turn the method of studies in racial discrimination and add some new aspects to it.

According to the results of the research, the overall response rate was 37%. Slightly more responses came from website than through mobile phone. There was no significant statistical difference between the groups of Russian, Ukrainian and Jewish applicants. After these 3 ethnic groups there goes a group of European countries with about -5% coefficient compared to the Russian reference group, then the region of Central Asia (-12% in average) and Transcaucasian countries (-15%). From these facts several conclusions can be drawn. First, no standard ethnic discrimination, such as xenophobia or racism, takes place for job applicants in Russia. Second, the political questions between Russia and Ukraine do not have any impact on the response rate of employers in Russia, though it would be quite logical if the Ukrainians went slightly down in the ethnic hierarchy due to the political situation. Third, religious convictions are also irrelevant in getting jobs. From the list of contact rates by ethnic groups it can be seen that such countries as Georgia and Armenia, which are orthodox, stand lower than some Catholic (Germany, Lithuania) and Islam (Uzbekistan, Tatarstan, Chechnya) countries. It was found out in the study that even the type of occupation does not always play a crucial role in response rates. Given the results in 4 occupations: cook, salesperson, sales manager and programmer, the presenters state that there is a slightly bigger possibility for ethnic minorities of getting the job of a cook, than that of a programmer, but the difference is statistically insignificant.

The researchers highlighted that gender differences can be quite important in the ethnic hierarchy, especially considering Southern countries. The response rate for Southern men was 7% lower in Moscow and St. Petersburg and 3% lower in Kazan and Ufa. This can be explained by the higher level of potential threat, more likely imminent by male representatives of different ethnic groups.

 

Klavdiya Chernilevskaya & Jovana Zafirović