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Examining Hiring Discrimination through Direct Signalling:
A Correspondence Study in the Thai Labour Market

Patrick Devahastin and Chatpot Lairungruang

Twenty years after the groundbreaking study by Bertrand and Mullainathan (2004), correspondence studies have been widely used to examine hiring discrimination in countries with visible minority populations. Despite Thailand’s relative homogeneity and fewer visible minorities, religious minorities can still be identified through the national ID card. When hiring, employers are required to make photocopies of applicants’ national ID cards and submit them to the authorities. This action may lead to hiring discrimination. Given that Muslims make up the largest religious minority in Thailand, the study incorporated direct signalling, mainly “being Muslim,” into resume-based trials to examine hiring discrimination in the Thai labour market. The research also looked at the potential impact of cultural assimilation, such as changing surnames and participating in Thai cultural clubs (TCC), on reducing hiring discrimination. A total of 3,129 resumes were sent to 1,043 employers in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region, with each employer receiving three identical-quality resumes representing three treatment groups: Buddhist with a Thai full name, Muslim with a Thai full name, and Muslim with a Thai first name and Arabic surname. After addressing Heckman and Siegelman’s critique (1993), the study found that Muslim applicants are less likely to receive an interview invitation than their Buddhist counterparts. Additionally, cultural assimilation, such as participating in TCC, has a small impact on the likelihood of receiving an invitation. Interestingly, Muslim applicants with Arabic surnames are more likely to receive a callback than those with Thai surnames.

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