Racial discrimination

Racial discrimination is any discrimination against individuals on the basis of their skin colour, racial or ethnic origin.[1][2]

Policies of racial segregation may formalize it, but it is also often exerted without being legalised and also it means facing injustice.


According to World Values Survey data, as analyzed by The Washington Post, the least tolerant country worldwide is Jordan.[3] According to this study, racial tolerance is also low in ethnically diverse Asian countries, while Western and Central Europe and the United States are relatively racially tolerant.[3]

More than 30 years of field experiment studies have found significant levels of discrimination against non-whites in labor, housing, and product markets in 10 different countries.[4]

The Netherlands

A study conducted in the Netherlands and published in 2013 found significant levels of discrimination against job applicants with Arabic-sounding names.[5]



The constitution of Liberia renders non-Blacks ineligible for citizenship.[6]

United States

With regard to employment, multiple audit studies have found strong evidence of racial discrimination in the United States' labor market, with magnitudes of employers' preferences of white applicants found in these studies ranging from 50% to 240%. Other such studies have found significant evidence of discrimination in car sales, home insurance applications, provision of medical care, and hailing taxis.[7] There is some debate regarding the method used to signal race in these studies.[8][9]


Racial discrimination in the workplace falls into two basic categories:[10]

  • Disparate Treatment: An employer's policies discriminate based upon any immutable racial characteristic, such as skin, eye or hair color, and certain facial features;
  • Disparate Impact: Although an employer may not intend to discriminate based on racial characteristics, its policies nonetheless have an adverse effect based upon race.

Discrimination may occur at any point in the employment process, including pre-employment inquiries, hiring practices, compensation, work assignments and conditions, privileges granted to employees, promotion, employee discipline and termination.[11]

Researchers Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, at the University of Chicago and MIT found in a 2004 study, that there was widespread racial discrimination in the workplace. In their study, candidates perceived as having "white-sounding names" were 50% more likely than those whose names were merely perceived as "sounding black" to receive callbacks for interviews. The researchers view these results as strong evidence of unconscious biases rooted in the United States' long history of discrimination (e.g., Jim Crow laws, etc.)[12]

Devah Pager, a sociologist at Princeton University, sent matched pairs of applicants to apply for jobs in Milwaukee and New York City, finding that black applicants received callbacks or job offers at half the rate of equally qualified whites.[13][14] Another recent audit by UCLA sociologist S. Michael Gaddis examines the job prospects of black and white college graduates from elite private and high quality state higher education institutions. This research finds that blacks who graduate from an elite school such as Harvard have about the same prospect of getting an interview as whites who graduate from a state school such as UMass Amherst.[15]

A 2001 study of workplace evaluation in a large U.S. company showed that black supervisors rate white subordinates lower than average and vice versa.[16]


Multiple experimental audit studies conducted in the United States have found that blacks and Hispanics experience discrimination in about one in five and one in four housing searches, respectively.[7]

A 2014 study also found evidence of racial discrimination in an American rental apartment market.[17]