Study Finds Job Call-Back Rates Begin Steep Decline in 40’s

The callback rate for job applicants begins to fall significantly around the age of 40-45 and is close to zero by the age of 70.

This was the “striking” finding of a recent Swedish study in which more than 6,000 fictitious resumes  were sent to 2,000 employers with job vacancies from 2015 – 2016. The study, The Effect of Age and Gender on Labor Demand – Evidence from a Field Experiment,  was conducted by  the Swedish Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy. The authors are Magnus Carlsson of the Center for Labor Market and Discrimination Studies at Linnaeus University and  economist Stefan Eriksson of Uppsala University.

On average, the study found that each  year of aging reduces the call back rate of a job applicant between the ages of 35 and 70 by about one half a percentage point.

The authors note that it is unreasonable to conclude that workers in their early 40s lack important occupational skills, have low physical strength or bad health. Therefore, they say, the “main story of age discrimination in the labor market is not about being old, say above age 55, but rather about not being young, say below age 40-45.”

The authors suggest that employers fear workers in their early 40s have started to lose the ability to learn new tasks, flexibility and adaptability, and ambition.

The authors write that the call back rate for women drops at a much steeper rate than that of  men after the age of 35.

Th study concludes that age discrimination is a “widespread phenomenon, affecting workers much younger than the age where employers consider them as old (which occurs at age 54 according to our employer survey).

The study encompassed seven occupations that had a job advertisement on the website of the Swedish Public Employment Service. These include administrative assistants, chefs, cleaners, food serving and waitresses, retail sales persons and cashiers, sales representative sand truck drivers.