IPP Policy Brief n°76 - November 2021

Discrimination in hiring people of supposedly North African origin: What lessons from a large-scale correspondence test?

IPP Policy Brief n°76

November 2021

Author : Dares-MAR, Chercheurs IPP, ISM Corum

Contacts : nicolas.jacquemet@univ-paris1.fr et roland.rathelot@ensae.fr

This study is the result of a collaboration between the Direction de l’Animation de la Recherche, des Études et des Statistiques – Mission d’Animation de la Recherche (Dares-MAR), the Institut des Politiques Publiques (IPP) and the Inter Service Migrants – Centre d’Observation et de Recherche sur l’Urbain et ses Mutation (ISM CORUM). This study benefited from financial support provided by the Dares.

logo-pdf-minDiscrimination in hiring people of supposedly North African origin: What lessons from a large-scale correspondence test?



Numerous studies show that French people from North African immigrant backgrounds face significant difficulties in the job market, starting from the first stage of recruitment. The results of a recent large-scale correspondence test confirm this.Discrimination in hiring based on supposed origin remains high and a major feature of the French labor market. On average, at a comparable level of quality, applicants whose identity suggests a North African origin are 31.5% less likely to be contacted by recruiters than those with a first and last name of French origin. While discrimination based on supposed origin is strong and persistent, it becomes weaker, without disappearing, among the most qualified employees. These results do not vary significantly between women and men.

Key points:

  • 9,600 applications were sent in response to 2,400 published job offers for 11 different job categories. The gender and identity (first and last name) of the applicants were randomly assigned in order to measure discrimination in hiring based on gender and supposed origin.
  • To receive the same number of positive responses, a person whose first and last names sound North African has to send an average of 1.5 times more applications than a person with the same profile but whose first and last names sound French.
  • These differences are large regardless of the characteristics of the jobs and the candidates.
  • Discrimination is about twice as high in low-skilled jobs compared to skilled jobs.
  • Discrimination according to supposed origin concerns both male and female applications and varies little according to gender, regardless of the family situation indicated on the application.