Study on 'ban the box' rules cited in multiple news stories

Ben Hansen

A study co-authored by a UO economics professor on the unexpected effects of limiting questions about criminal history on job applications is getting attention from multiple media outlets.

The work by Ben Hansen of the UO and Jennifer L. Doleac of the University of Virginia's Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy examined rules that bar some employers from asking about criminal histories until later in the hiring process. The rules are meant to give people who have been convicted, especially African-Americans and Hispanics, a better chance of finding employment.

But the research found that such “ban the box” rules actually can make it harder for members of minority groups who have served time to find work. That’s because some employers, lacking information on a particular applicant, will instead discriminate more broadly against groups perceived to be more likely to have criminal histories.

The research was cited in recent stories in The Atlantic, The Economist, Fusion, CBS News and others.