Age discrimination in hiring practices against older adults in Western Australia: The case of accounting assistants
School of Arts and Humanities
Objectives: To investigate the willingness of employers to hire older adults.
Method: Measures of actual age discrimination were obtained through the use of correspondence testing. Unsolicited fictitious resumes were simultaneously mailed to 452 companies across industries in Western Australia. Resumes were similar in all job relevant information except the applicant's age that was either 32 or 57 and gender. Measures of discrimination were obtained through comparisons of the time for receipt, and the number of positive and negative responses across age and gender.
Results: Responses for 202 resumes were received from 154 companies. A significant three‐way interaction between age, gender, and mailing condition was found for time for receipt of negative responses. The interaction showed that both younger males and older females were significantly faster to receive negative responses compared with either older males or younger females. Overall, younger applicants received a greater number of positive and a smaller number of negative responses compared with the older applicants.
Conclusions: The current study found evidence of actual age discrimination in hiring practices against older adults in Western Australia, with older women the most discriminated against. These trends of discrimination were different and of lower magnitude to those found in the US. Correspondence testing with unsolicited applications was shown to be a valid and sensitive tool for measuring actual discrimination in Western Australia.