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Assessing Immigrant Generational Status from Names: Evidence for Experiments Examining Racial/Ethnic and Immigrant Discrimination

Working Paper
S. Michael Gaddis
Working paper. Available at SSRN.
Publication year: 2019


Evidence of racial and ethnic discrimination stems mostly from experiments in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere that use names to signal race/ethnicity. Although recent work has examined individual racial perceptions of names in the U.S., no research has examined how names might convey immigrant generational status – an important signal for discrimination experiments across the world. I conduct a survey experiment that presents respondents with a series of first and last names to examine perceptions of immigrant generational status in the U.S. In total, 1,659 respondents provide information on 56 different names. I find that when presented with both traditional first and last Hispanic, Indian, or Chinese names, respondents most often believe that person was not born in the U.S. When presented with traditional white or Anglo first names combined with Hispanic or Asian last names, respondents most often believe that person was born in the U.S. but their parents were not. Individual names provide some variation within these results and some groups have stronger results than others. These findings have important implications for discrimination experiments in the U.S. and open the door for future research to distinguish between discrimination based on race/ethnicity and discrimination based on immigration status.


  • Immigration
  • Racial/ethnic discrimination
  • Names
  • Audit Studies

  • Experiments

Contextualizing Public Stigma: Endorsed Mental Health Treatment Stigma on College Campuses

Published Article
S. Michael Gaddis, Daniel Ramirez, and Erik L. Hernandez
Social Science & Medicine, 197:183-191
Publication year: 2018


Scholars suggest that public mental health stigma operates at a meso-level and is associated with severity of symptoms, disclosure, self-esteem, and treatment-seeking behavior. However, the operationalization of public stigma nearly always comes from an individual-level generalization of what others believe. Using data from over 60,000 students on 75 U.S. college and university campuses between 2009 and 2015, we contextualize public stigma by creating a school-level measure of students’ individual-level endorsed mental health treatment stigma. We present multilevel logistic regression models for 21 different dependent variables. We find that even after controlling for individual-level stigma scores, school-level stigma is negatively associated with self-reports of suicidal ideation and self-injury, although not associated with screens for depression or anxiety. Moreover, school-level stigma is negatively associated with medication use, counseling and therapy visits, and to a lesser degree, informal support. We suggest that future research should continue to examine the contextual environment of public stigma, while policymakers may be able to implement changes to significantly reduce stigma at this level.


  • Stigma
  • Mental health
  • Higher education
  • Institutional context

Audit Studies: Behind the Scenes with Theory, Method, and Nuance

S. Michael Gaddis, Editor
Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.
Publication year: 2018


This book offers practical instruction on the use of audit studies in the social sciences. It features essays from sociologists, economists, and other experts who have employed this powerful and flexible tool. Readers will learn how to implement an audit study to examine a variety of questions in their own research. The essays first discuss situations where audit studies are the most effective. These tools allow researchers to make strong causal claims and explore questions that are often difficult to answer with observational data. Audit studies also stand as the single best way to conduct research on discrimination. The authors highlight what these studies have uncovered about labor market processes in the past decade. The next section gives some guidance on how to design an audit study. The essays cover the difficult task of getting a study through an institutional review board, the technical setup of matching procedures, and statistical power and analysis techniques.

The last part focuses on more advanced aspects. Coverage includes understanding context, what variables may signal, and the use of technology. The book concludes with a discussion of challenges and limitations with an eye towards the future of audit studies.

“Field experiments studying and testing for housing and labor market discrimination have, rightly, become the dominant mode of discrimination-related research in economics and sociology.  This book brings together a number of interesting and useful perspectives on these field experiments. Many different kinds of readers will find it valuable, ranging from those interested in getting an overview of the evidence, to researchers looking for guidance on the nuts and bolts of conducting these complex experiments.”

David Neumark, Chancellor’s Professor of Economics at the University of California – Irvine

“For decades, researchers have used experimental audit studies to uncover discrimination in a variety of markets. Although this approach has become more popular in recent years, few publications provide detailed information on the design and implementation of the method. This volume provides the first deep examination of the audit method, with details on the practical, political, analytical, and theoretical considerations of this research. Social scientists interested in consuming or contributing to this literature will find this volume immensely useful.”

Devah Pager, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Harvard University