Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Is a difficult name a problem in your job search?

Via Marginal Revolution, this interesting paper: 
This paper tests for the existence of labor market discrimination based on a previously unstudied characteristic: name fluency. Using data on over 1,500 economics job market candidates from roughly 100 PhD programs during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 job market cycles, we find that having a name that takes longer to pronounce is associated with 1) a significantly lower likelihood of being placed into an academic job or obtaining a tenure track position; and 2) an initial placement at an institution with lower research productivity, as measured by the research rankings in the Research Papers in Economics (RePEc) database. We obtain similar results using two alternative ways of measuring pronunciation difficulty, a computer generated algorithm based on commonality of letter and phoneme combinations and a subjective measure based on individual ratings, and they hold after the inclusion of many control variables including fixed effects for PhD institution and home country.

Would be interesting to see what is "difficult to pronounce" (i.e. do Xi, Krishnamurthy or Krzyzewski count?) I could imagine all three being either easy or difficult, depending on the pronouncer. Also, I strongly suspect that this would reproduce in chemistry and for industry...


  1. Xi and Krishnamurthy might reflect anti-immigrant prejudice. Krzyzewski sounds more like an average white American whose ancestors came from Poland 100 years ago. The study needs to look more closely at how much of this is actually about pronounceability.

    1. agreed. just a glance at the NSF earned doctorate survey @ one can see us citizens have a higher academia employment % than temp visa holders; if by significant the authors mean ~10% then this could be from immigration status.

  2. Some of my non-white colleagues adopt a white name to avoid potential prejudice during job application.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20