Do terrorist attacks affect ethnic discrimination in the labor market?


Terrorist attacks are known to influence public opinion, but do they also change behaviour? A new British Journal of Sociology study that addressed this question found that Pakistanis in Norway still experience the same level of discrimination, despite claims that Norwegians have become more positive about migrants after the far-right, anti-migrant terrorist attacks of 2011.

The study looked at hiring practices before and after the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway. The terrorist detonated a car bomb at the government quarters in Oslo, killing 8 people and maiming over 200. He then drove to the summer camp of the youth organization of the Labour Party, at the island of Ut√łya, where he shot and killed 69 people, most of them teenagers. The attacker identified himself as a fascist and a Nazi, and he said the attacks were a response to the large-scale immigration to Norway of non-Europeans, especially Muslims.

Both before and after the attacks, job applicants with a typical Pakistani name were significantly less likely to get a job interview compared with those with a typical Norwegian name. The ethnic gap in call-back rates was very similar in both time points.

“Our experiments show that the terrorist attacks did not change employers’ hiring practices even though the public opinion reacted to the attacks,” said lead author Dr. Gunn Elizabeth Birkelund, of the University of Oslo.


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