NEWS. I will edit a special issue on hiring discrimination for the International Journal of Manpower. One can find the call for papers here.

Research projects: publications in Web of Science journals

1. Pure Ethnic Gaps in Educational Attainment and School to Work Transitions: When Do They Arise?

Abstract. This article decomposes the observed gaps in educational attainment and school-to-work transitions in Belgium between grandchildren of natives and of women of "non-Western" nationality into (i) differences in observed family endowments and (ii) a residual "pure ethnic gap". It innovates by explicitly taking delays in educational attainment into account, by identifying the moments at which the pure ethnic gaps arise, by disentangling the decision to continue schooling at the end of a school year from the achievement within a particular grade, and by integrating the language spoken at home among observed family endowments. The pure ethnic gap in educational attainment is found to be small if delays are neglected, but substantial if not and for school-to-work transitions. It is shown that more than 20% of the pure ethnic gap in graduating from secondary school without delay originates in tenth grade. Language usage explains only part of the gap in school-to-work transitions for low educated.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Bart Cockx.

Downloads. Published in Economics of Education Review (URL: A presentation is downloadable here.

2. Overeducation at the start of the career: Stepping stone or trap?

Abstract. This study investigates whether young unemployed graduates who accept a job below their level of education accelerate or delay the transition into a job that matches their level of education. We adopt the Timing of Events approach to identify this dynamic treatment effect using monthly calendar data from a representative sample of Flemish (Belgian) youth who started searching for a job right after leaving formal education. We find that overeducation is a trap. By accepting a job for which one is overeducated rather than only accepting adequate job matches, monthly transition rates into adequate employment fall by 51-98%, depending on the elapsed unemployment duration. These findings challenge the career mobility thesis and imply that the short-term benefits of policies that generate quick transitions into employment must be traded-off against the long-term costs of an inadequate job match.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Bart Cockx and Prof. dr. Dieter Verhaest.

Downloads. Published in Labour Economics (URL: A presentation is downloadable here.

3. The Impact of Military Work Experience on Later Hiring Chances in the Civilian Labour Market. Evidence from a Field Experiment

Abstract. This study directly assesses the impact of military work experience compared with civilian work experience in similar jobs on the subsequent chances of being hired in the civilian labour market. It does so through a field experiment in the Belgian labour market. A statistical examination of our experimental dataset shows that in general we cannot reject that employers are indifferent to whether job candidates gained their experience in a civilian or a military environment.

Co-authors. Pieter Balcaen.

Downloads. Published in Economics E-journal (URL:

4. Better sexy than flexy? A lab experiment assessing the impact of perceived attractiveness and personality traits on hiring decisions

Abstract. We present a laboratory experiment to assess the relative and independent effect of perceived attractiveness and personality traits on hiring decisions. Our results indicate that attractiveness and conscientiousness, followed by emotional stability, are important drivers of recruiters' decisions.

Co-authors. Lynn Decuypere.

Downloads. Published in Applied Economics Letters (URL:

5. Is There Less Discrimination in Occupations Where Recruitment is Difficult?

Abstract. We empirically test the cross-sectional relationship between hiring discrimination and labor market tightness at the level of the occupation. To this end, we conduct a correspondence test in the youth labor market. In line with theoretical expectations, we find that, compared to natives, candidates with a foreign sounding name are equally often invited to a job interview if they apply for occupations for which vacancies are difficult to fill, but they have to send twice as many applications for occupations for which labor market tightness is low. Our findings are robust against various sensitivity checks.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Bart Cockx, Drs. Niels Gheyle and Cora Vandamme.

Downloads. Published in Industrial & Labor Relations Review (URL: Winner of the P&V Foundation Prize 2013.

6. Does Homeownership Lead to Longer Unemployment Spells? The Role of Mortgage Payments

Abstract. This paper examines the impact of housing tenure choice on unemployment duration in Belgium using EU-SILC micro data. We contribute to the literature in distinguishing homeowners with mortgage payments and outright homeowners. Accounting for tenure endogeneity and unobserved heterogeneity, we find that homeowners with a mortgage exit unemployment first, while outright owners stay unemployed the longest. Tenants take an intermediate position. Our results emphasize the key role of housing costs in the link between housing tenure and labour market outcomes. Considered together with the results of recent macroeconomic research on housing and employment in Belgium, this paper provides indirect evidence for significant negative effects of homeownership on the labour market and the economy beyond the owners themselves.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Freddy Heylen and Dr. Daan Isebaert.

Downloads. Published in Economist (URL:

7. Is Ethnic Discrimination due to Distaste or Statistics?

Abstract. Employing a vignette experiment, we test the empirical importance of key attitudes underlying the models of taste-based and statistical discrimination in explaining ethnic hiring discrimination. We find that employer concern that co-workers and customers prefer collaborating with natives drives discrimination.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Ann-Sophie De Pauw.

Downloads. Published in Economics Letters (URL:

8. Wage Subsidies and Hiring Chances for the Disabled: Some Causal Evidence

Abstract. We evaluate the effectiveness of wage subsidies as a policy instrument to integrate disabled individuals into the labour market. To identify causal effects, we conduct a large-scale field experiment in Belgium. Our results show that the likelihood of a disabled candidate receiving a positive response to a job application is not positively influenced by revealing entitlement to the Flemish Supporting Subsidy.

Downloads. Published in in European Journal of Health Economics (URL: . A presentation is downloadable here.

9. Labour Market Discrimination against Former Juvenile Delinquents: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Abstract. In view of policy action to integrate ex-offenders into society, it is important to identify the underlying mechanisms of the negative relationship between criminal record on the one hand and later employment and earnings on the other hand. In this study, we identify hiring discrimination against former juvenile delinquents in a direct way. To this end, we conduct a field experiment in the Belgian labour market. We find that labour market discrimination is indeed a major barrier in the transition to work for former juvenile delinquents. Labour market entrants disclosing a history of juvenile delinquency get about 22 percent less callback compared to their counterparts without a criminal record. This discrimination is heterogeneous by the occupation for which one applies.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Elsy Verhofstadt.

Downloads. Published in Applied Economics (URL:

10. Mister Sandman, Bring Me Good Marks! On the Relationship Between Sleep Quality and Academic Achievement

Abstract. This study assesses the relationship between sleep quality and academic achievement. We survey college students about their sleep quality by means of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) before the start of their first exam period at university. PSQI scores are matched with course marks in this first exam period. Instrumenting PSQI scores by sleep quality during secondary education, we find that increasing total sleep quality with one standard deviation leads to 4.85 percentage point higher course marks.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Eddy Omey, Prof. dr. Dieter Verhaest and Aurélie Vermeir.

Downloads. Published in Social Science and Medicine (URL:

11. Do Employer Preferences Contribute to Sticky Floors?

Abstract. We investigate the importance of employer preferences in explaining Sticky Floors, the pattern that women are, compared to men, less likely to start to climb the job ladder. To this end we perform a randomised field experiment in the Belgian labour market and test whether hiring discrimination based on gender is heterogeneous by the promotion characteristics of the selected jobs. We find that women get 33% less interview invitations when they apply for jobs implying a first promotion in functional level. On the other hand, their hiring chances are not significantly affected by the job authority level of the job.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Ann-Sophie De Pauw and Prof. dr. Nick Deschacht.

Downloads. Published in Industrial & Labor Relations Review (URL: A presentation is downloadable here.

12. Hiring Discrimination against Pro-Union Applicants: The Role of Union Density and Firm Size.

Abstract. We study the causal impact of revealing pro-unionism during the recruitment stage on hiring chances. To this end, we conduct a randomised field experiment in the Belgian labour market. When matched with employer and sector data, the experimentally gathered data enable us to test the heterogeneity of discrimination against pro-union applicants by the union density in the sector and the size of the firm. We find that disclosure of pro-unionism affects hiring chances in a negative way and that -- in line with our expectations based on the literature -- this negative impact is stronger in highly unionised sectors.

Co-authors. Joint with Prof. dr. Eddy Omey.

Downloads. Published in Economist (URL:

13. Field Experimental Evidence on Gender Discrimination in Hiring: Biased as Heckman and Siegelman Predicted?

Abstract. Correspondence studies are nowadays viewed as the most compelling avenue to test for hiring discrimination. However, these studies suffer from one fundamental methodological problem, as formulated by Heckman and Siegelman (The Urban Institute audit studies: Their methods and findings. In M. Fix, and R. Struyk (Eds.), Clear and convincing evidence: Measurement of discrimination in America, 1993), namely the bias in their results in case of group differences in the variance of unobserved determinants of hiring outcomes. In this study, the authors empirically investigate this bias in the context of gender discrimination. The authors do not find significant evidence for the feared bias.

Downloads. Published in Economics E-journal (URL:

14. Native-Immigrant Gaps in Educational and School-to-Work Transitions in the Second Generation: The Role of Gender and Ethnicity

Abstract. We study how native-immigrant gaps in educational trajectories and school-to-work transitions vary by gender. Using longitudinal Belgian data and adjusting for family background and educational sorting, we find that second-generation immigrants, especially Turks and Moroccans, lag behind natives. In particular, we observe that immigrant students are less likely to finish secondary education or begin tertiary education on time. They are also less likely to transition into work successfully. These performance gaps are substantially larger for female immigrants. In addition, we study demographic behaviors to test the hypothesis that attributes the gender differences in educational and economic ethnic gaps to cultural differences between immigrants and natives.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Frank Heiland and Prof. dr. Sanders Korenman.

Downloads. Published in Economist (URL:

15. Student Employment and Later Labour Market Success: No Evidence for Higher Employment Chances

Abstract. We investigate the impact of student work experience on later hiring chances. To completely rule out potential endogeneity, we present a field experiment in which various forms of student work experience are randomly disclosed by more than 1000 fictitious graduates applying for jobs in Belgium. Theoretical mechanisms are investigated by estimating heterogeneous treatment effects by the relevance and timing of revealed student work experience. We find that neither form of student work experience enhances initial recruitment decisions. For a number of candidate subgroups (by education level and occupation type), even an adverse effect is found.

Co-authors. Olivier Rotsaert, Prof. dr. Dieter Verhaest and Prof. dr. Eddy Omey.

Downloads. Published in Kyklos (URL: A presentation is downloadable here.

16. Perceived Discrimination in Primary Health Care in Europe: Evidence from the cross-sectional QUALICOPC-Study

Abstract. Data of the QUALICPC-study is used to describe perceived discrimination in 31 European countries. Independent sample T- and One Way ANOVA-tests are used to estimate the impact of each socioeconomic indicator on discrimination. In a next step, binomial logistic regressions estimate the unique effect of each indicator. We find that in Europe, overall 7% of the respondents felt discriminated, ranging between 1.4% and 12.8% at the country-level. With regard to socio-economic determinants in perceived discrimination, income and age are both important indicators, with lower income groups and younger people having a higher chance to feel discriminated. In addition, we find significant influences of education, gender, age and ethnicity in several countries. In most countries higher educated people, older people, women and the indigenous population are better off when it comes to feeling discriminated.

Co-authors. Drs. Lise Hanssens, Drs. Jens Detollenaere, Drs. Amelie Van Pottelberge and Prof. dr. Sara Willems.

Downloads. Published in Health & Social Care in the Community (URL:

17. First Depressed, Then Discriminated Against?

Abstract. Each year a substantial share of the European population suffers from major depression. This mental illness may affect individuals' later life outcomes indirectly by the stigma it inflicts. The present study assesses hiring discrimination based on disclosed depression. To this end, between May 2015 and July 2015, we sent out 288 trios of job applications from fictitious candidates to real vacancies in Belgium. Within each trio, one candidate claimed to have become unemployed only recently, whereas the other two candidates revealed former depression or no reason at all for their unemployment during a full year. Disclosing a year of inactivity due to former depression decreases the probability of getting a job interview invitation by about 34% when compared with candidates who just became unemployed, but the stigma effect of a year of depression is not significantly higher than the stigma effect of a year of unexplained unemployment. In addition, we found that these stigmas of depression and unemployment were driven by our male trios of fictitious candidates. As a consequence, our results are in favour of further research on gender heterogeneity in the stigma of depression and other health impairments.

Co-authors. Sarah De Visschere, Prof. dr. Koen Schoors, Drs. Désirée Vandenberghe and Prof. dr. Eddy Omey.

Downloads. Published in Social Science & Medicine (URL:

18. Immigrant Volunteering: A Way Out of Labour Market Discrimination?

Abstract. Many governments encourage migrants to participate in volunteer activities as a stepping stone to labour market integration. In the present study, we investigate whether this prosocial engagement lowers the hiring discrimination against them. To this end, we use unique data from a field experiment in which fictitious job applications are sent in response to real vacancies in Belgium. Ethnic origin and volunteer activities are randomly assigned to these applications. While non-volunteering native candidates receive more than twice as many job interview invitations as non-volunteering migrants, no unequal treatment is found between natives and migrants when they reveal volunteer activities.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Suncica Vujic.

Downloads. Published in Economics Letters (URL:

19. Do gender differences in career aspirations contribute to Sticky Floors?

Abstract. This study tests hypotheses regarding the importance of employee preferences in explaining Sticky Floors, the pattern that women are, compared to men, less likely to start to climb the job ladder. To this end we conduct a vignette study in which participants had to score the likeliness with which they would accept job offers with different promotion characteristics. In addition, they were surveyed on a number of preferences and attitudes. The main findings are that female young professionals have a less pronounced preference for jobs implying a promotion in terms of job content and that this effect is mediated by the greater risk aversion and anticipated gender discrimination among the women in our sample. No gender differences were found in the relative likeliness to apply for jobs that involve a promotion in terms of job authority.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Ann-Sophie De Pauw and Prof. dr. Nick Deschacht.

Downloads. Accepted for publication in International Journal of Manpower. An author version of the accepted manuscript can be found here.

20. Getting Grey Hairs in the Labour Market: An Alternative Experiment on Age Discrimination

Abstract. This study presents a new field experimental approach for measuring age discrimination in hiring. In addition to the classical approach in which candidates' ages are randomly assigned within pairs of fictitious resumes that are sent to real vacancies, we randomly assign between these pairs the activities undertaken by the older candidates during their additional post-educational years. When applying this design to the case of Belgium, we find that age discrimination depends fundamentally on the older candidates' career patterns. Older age only robustly affects call-back if the older candidate was employed in an out-of-field job during his or her extra post-educational years.

Co-authors. Jennifer Norga, Dr. Yannick Thuy and Marieke Van Hecke.

Downloads. Published in Journal of Economic Psychology (URL: A presentation is downloadable here.

21. Facebook profile picture appearance affects recruiters' first hiring decisions

Abstract. We investigate whether the publicly available information on Facebook about job applicants affects employers' hiring decisions. To this end, we conduct a field experiment in which fictitious job applications are sent to real job openings in Belgium. The only characteristic in which these candidates differ is the unique Facebook profile that can be found online with their name. Candidates with the most beneficial Facebook picture obtain approximately 38% more job interview invitations compared to candidates with the least beneficial picture. In addition, we find suggestive evidence for a higher effect of Facebook profile picture appearance on hiring chances when candidates are highly educated and when recruiters are female.

Downloads. Published in New Media & Society (URL:

22. Volunteering, income and health

Abstract. Separate literatures have related volunteering to health gains and income gains. We study the association between volunteering, income and health within one statistical framework. A state-of-the-art mediation analysis is conducted on data concerning the health, volunteering and sociodemographic characteristics of 42926 individuals within 29 European countries. We find that volunteering is positively associated to self-rated health. This association is partially mediated by household income.

Co-authors. Drs. Jens Detollenaere and Prof. dr. Sara Willems.

Downloads. Published in PLOS ONE (URL:

23. Hiring a gay man, taking a risk? A lab experiment on employment discrimination and risk-aversion

Abstract. We investigate risk-aversion as a driver of labour market discrimination against homosexual men. We show that more hiring discrimination by more risk-averse employers is consistent with taste-based and statistical discrimination. To test this hypothesis we conduct a scenario experiment in which experimental employers take a hiring decision concerning a heterosexual or homosexual job candidate. In addition, participants are surveyed on their risk-aversion and other characteristics which might correlate with this risk-aversion. Analysis of the (post-)experimental data confirms our hypothesis. The probability of a beneficial hiring decision for homosexual candidates decreases by 31.7% when employers are a standard deviation more risk-averse.

Downloads. Accepted for publication in Journal of Homosexuality. A working paper version of the study is published in the IZA Discussion Paper Series and can be downloaded here.

24. Does Work Experience Mitigate Discrimination?

Abstract. We test whether ethnic discrimination is heterogeneous by job candidates' work experience. Fictitious applications are sent to vacancies. We find significant discrimination when candidates have no or little experience but no unequal treatment when they have twenty years of experience.

Co-authors. Dr. Andrea Albanese, Sofie du Gardein, Jolien Ovaere and Drs. Jarno Stappers.

Downloads. Published in Economics Letters (URL: ).

25. Association between cultural distance and migrant self-rated health

Abstract. We study whether migrants' health in Europe is associated with the cultural distance between their host country and country of origin. To this end, we run multilevel regression models on data merging (i) self-rated health and social background of more than 3,800 migrants from the European Social Survey with (ii) an index of cultural distance based on country differences in values, norms and attitudes measured in the World Values Survey. We find that higher levels of cultural distance are associated with worse health of migrants. This association is comparable in size to the negative association between health and female gender (compared to male gender) but less important than the association between health and education level. In addition, this association is less significant among second-generation migrants than among first-generation migrants.

Co-authors. Drs. Jens Detollenaere and Prof. dr. Sara Willems.

Downloads. Published in European Journal of Health Economics (URL:

26. The effects of workplace learning in higher education on employment and match quality: Is there an early-career tradeoff?

Abstract. We investigate whether the choice for a higher education program with a substantial workplace learning component entails an early-career trade-off between on the one hand higher employment chances and better initial matches (when opting for a program with workplace learning) and on the other hand a lower risk of bad match persistence (when opting for a program without workplace learning). To this end, we rely on longitudinal data of Belgian graduates that track their careers up until the age of 29. We model the program choice, the transition to a good match and the preceding transition to a bad match simultaneously. To account for non-random selection into programs and into bad matches, the Timing of Events method is combined with an exclusion restriction. After accounting for observed and unobserved heterogeneity, we do not find evidence for a trade-off. This result contributes to the debate about the efficiency of vocationalising tertiary education programs through the implementation of workplace learning.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Dieter Verhaest.

Downloads. Accepted for publication in Empirical Economics. An author version of the accepted manuscript can be found here.

27. Do Employers Prefer Overqualified Graduates? A Field Experiment

Abstract. We test the basic assumption underlying the job competition and crowding out hypothesis: that employers always prefer higher educated to lower educated individuals. To this end, we conduct a randomised field experiment in which duos of fictitious applications by bachelor and master graduates are sent to real vacancies requiring only a bachelor degree. Our design allows to look at whether employers' preferences for overqualified versus adequately qualified applicants depend on the demand and supply context, sectoral activity and type of organisation, and characteristics of the posted vacancy. For the overall sample, we find that master graduates are 19% more likely to be directly invited for a job interview. Nonetheless, we conclude that eventual crowding out of bachelor graduates as a consequence of this selection policy is unlikely to be large since the advantage for master graduates is particularly observed for jobs with high overall invitation rates.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Dieter Verhaest, Elene Bogaert, Jeroen Dereymaeker and Laura Mestdagh.

Downloads. Accepted for publication in Industrial Relations. This study was disseminated as a Discussion Paper titled "Crowding Out in the Labour Market: Do Employers Lend a Hand?". An author version of the accepted manuscript can be found here.

Research projects: studies in the review process for Web of Science journals

28. Unemployment or Overeducation: Which is a Worse Signal to Employers?

Abstract. This study aims at estimating the stigma effect of unemployment and overeducation within one framework. To this end, we conduct a field experiment in the Belgian labour market. We send out trios of fictitious male job applications to real vacancies. These applications differ only by the labour market history of the candidates. By monitoring the subsequent reactions from the employer side, we find evidence for a larger stigma effect of unemployment than overeducation. The stigma effect of overeducation is found to occur for permanent contract jobs but not temporary ones.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Dieter Verhaest.

Downloads. A working paper version of the study is published in the IZA Discussion Paper Series and can be downloaded here. A revised version is available upon request.

29. Contracting Out Mandatory Counselling and Training for Long-Term Unemployed: Private For-Profit or Non-Profit, or Keep It Public?

Abstract. This study evaluates the effectiveness of contracting out mandatory publicly provided counselling and training for long-term unemployed in Flanders (Belgium) to private for-profit and non-profit organisations (FPOs and NPOs). A multivariate transition model exploits timing-of-events and novel exclusion restrictions to account for selection on unobservables. Overall, the intervention was highly effective in reducing unemployment duration, but also spurred employment instability and withdrawals from the labour force. FPOs slightly, but significantly enhanced exits to employment without reinforcing recidivism relative to the public provider but not significantly relative to NPOs. FPOs also charged lower prices and hence were the best performing providers.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Bart Cockx.

Downloads. A working paper version of the study is published in the IZA Discussion Paper Series and can be downloaded here. A revised version is available upon request.

30. Modeling the Effects of Grade Retention in High School

Abstract. A dynamic discrete choice model is set up to estimate the effects of grade retention in high school, both in the short- (end-of-year evaluation) and long-run (drop-out and delay). In contrast to regression discontinuity designs, this approach captures treatment heterogeneity and controls for grade-varying unobservable determinants. A method is proposed to deal with initial conditions and with partial observability of the track choices at the start of high school. Forced track downgrading is considered as an alternative remedial measure. In the long-run, grade retention and its alternative have adverse effects on schooling outcomes and, more so, for less able pupils.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Bart Cockx and Prof. dr. Matteo Picchio.

Downloads. A working paper version of the study is published in the IZA Discussion Paper Series and can be downloaded here. A revised version is available upon request.

31. Does it Pay to Care? Prosocial Engagement and Employment Opportunities

Abstract. We investigate whether, why and when prosocial engagement has a causal impact on individual employment opportunities. To this end, a field experiment is conducted in which volunteering activities are randomly assigned to fictitious job applications sent to genuine vacancies. We find that volunteers get one third more interview invitations than non-volunteers. The volunteering premium is higher for females but invariant with respect to the number of engagements and the private versus public or non-profit orientation of the job posting firm. As a result, our findings are consistent with the idea that prosocial workers sort themselves into non-commercial sectors.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Suncica Vujic.

Downloads. A working paper version of the study is published in the IZA Discussion Paper Series and can be downloaded here. A revised version is available upon request.

32. The Effectiveness of Medical and Vocational Interventions for Reducing Sick Leave of Self-Employed Workers

Abstract. We investigate whether interventions by (i) medical doctors and (ii) occupational specialists are effective in reducing sick leave durations among self-employed workers. To this end, we exploit unique administrative data comprising all sick leave claims by self-employed workers insured with the major Dutch private insurer between January 2009 and March 2014. We estimate a multivariate duration model dealing with non-random selection into the two intervention types by controlling for observable and unobservable claimant characteristics. We find adverse treatment effects for both interventions, which are heterogeneous by the physical toughness of the claimants' occupation.

Co-authors. Prof. dr. Bas van der Klaauw and Dr. Gijsbert van Lomwel

Downloads. A working paper version of the study is published in the IZA Discussion Paper Series and can be downloaded here. A revised version is available upon request.

33. No Better Moment to Score a Goal than Just Before Half Time? A Soccer Myth Statistically Tested

Abstract. We test the soccer myth suggesting that a particularly good moment to score a goal is just before half time. To this end, rich data on 1,179 games played in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League are analysed. In contrast to the myth, we find that, conditional on the goal difference and other game characteristics at half time, the final goal difference at the advantage of the home team is 0.520 goals lower in case of a goal just before half time by this team. We show that this finding relates to this team's lower probability of scoring a goal during the second half.

Co-authors. Simon Amez.

Downloads. A working paper version of the study is published in the IZA Discussion Paper Series and can be downloaded here.

Research projects: ongoing research aimed at publication in Web of Science journals

See my cv.

Research projects: other research and societal impact

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