The Value of Reference Letters

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Show simple item record Abel, Martin Burger, Rulof Piraino, Patrizio 2017-07-20T13:35:27Z 2017-07-20T13:35:27Z 2017-07
dc.identifier.citation Abel, M., Burger, R., Piraino, P. (2017). The Value of Reference Letters. Cape Town: SALDRU, UCT. (SALDRU Working Paper Number 207)
dc.identifier.isbn 978-1-928281-68-9
dc.description.abstract We show that reference letters from former employers alleviate information asymmetries about workers’ skills and improve both match quality and equity in the labor market. A resume audit study finds that using a reference letter in the application increases callbacks by 61%. Women disproportionately benefit. Letters are effective because they provide valuable information about workers’ skills that employers use to select applicants of higher ability. A second experiment, which encourages job seekers to obtain and use a reference letter, finds consistent results. In particular, employment rates for women who obtain letters double, fully closing the gender gap in our sample. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship This paper greatly benefited from discussions with and comments by David Autor, Emmanuel Bakirdjian, Willa Brown, Eliana Carranza, Bruno Crepon, Robert Garlick, Rachel Glennerster, Rema Hanna, Lawrence Katz, Asim Khwaja, Michael Kremer, Amanda Pallais, Gareth Roberts, Volker Schoer, and participants at the CSAE and NEUDC conferences. Emma Lambert-Porter, Velenkosini Matsebula, Samantha Ndiwalana and Svetlana Pimkina provided superb research assistance. We thank the South African Department of Labour and J-PAL Africa, especially Laura Poswell, for assistance in the implementation of this project. This study was prepared as part of a collaboration with the World Bank Gender Innovation Lab. We thank EuropeAid for financial support. The experiment was registered under registry number AEARCTR-0000819. All errors and omissions are our own. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.relation.ispartofseries Saldru Working Paper;207
dc.subject Reference Letters en_US
dc.subject Employment en_US
dc.subject South Africa en_US
dc.title The Value of Reference Letters en_US
dc.type Working Paper en_US

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