The Dynamics of Referral Hiring and Racial Inequality: Evidence from Brazil

Probability

Suggested Citation

Miller, Conrad and Ian M. Schmutte. "The Dynamics of Referral Hiring and Racial Inequality: Evidence from Brazil.", NBER Working Paper 29246, September 2021.

NBER Working Paper 29246

Upjohn Institute Working Paper 21-352

Abstract

We study how referral hiring contributes to racial inequality in firm-level labor demand over the firm’s life cycle using data from Brazil. We consider a search model where referral networks are segregated, firms are more informed about the match quality of referred candidates, and some referrals are made by non-referred employees. Consistent with the model, we find that firms are more likely to hire candidates and less likely to dismiss employees of the same race as the founder, but these differences diminish as firms’ cumulative hires increase. Referral hiring helps to explain racial differences in dismissals, seniority, and employer size.