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The incentive effects of affirmative action in a real-effort tournament

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Author Info

  • Calsamiglia, Caterina
  • Franke, Jörg
  • Rey-Biel, Pedro

Abstract

Affirmative action policies bias tournament rules in order to provide equal opportunities to a group of competitors who have a disadvantage they cannot be held responsible for. Its implementation affects the underlying incentive structure which might induce lower performance by participants, and additionally result in a selected pool of tournament winners that is less efficient. In this paper, we study the empirical validity of such concerns in a case where the disadvantage affects capacities to compete. We conducted real-effort tournaments between pairs of children from two similar schools who systematically differed in how much training they received ex-ante on the task at hand. Contrary to the expressed concerns, our results show that the implementation of affirmative action did not result in a significant performance loss for either advantaged or disadvantaged subjects; instead it rather enhanced the performance for a large group of participants. Moreover, affirmative action resulted in a more equitable tournament winner pool where half of the selected tournament winners came from the originally disadvantaged group. Hence, the negative selection effects due to the biased tournament rules were (at least partially) offset by performance enhancing incentive effects.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 98 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 15-31

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:98:y:2013:i:c:p:15-31

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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Keywords: Affirmative action; Tournament; Real-effort; Experiment; Sudoku;

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References

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  1. Caterina Calsamiglia, 2009. "Decentralizing Equality Of Opportunity," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(1), pages 273-290, 02.
  2. Jörg Franke, 2010. "Does Affirmative Action Reduce Effort Incentives? – A Contest Game Analysis," Ruhr Economic Papers 0185, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  3. Marion, Justin, 2007. "Are bid preferences benign? The effect of small business subsidies in highway procurement auctions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1591-1624, August.
  4. Jose Apesteguia & Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2010. "Psychological Pressure in Competitive Environments: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2548-64, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
  2. Dahm, Matthias & Esteve, Patrícia,, 2013. "Affirmative Action through Extra Prizes," Working Papers 2072/222197, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
  3. Balafoutas, Loukas & Kerschbamer, Rudolf & Sutter, Matthias, 2012. "Distributional preferences and competitive behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 125-135.
  4. Marcela Ibanez & Gerhard Riener & Ashok Rai, 2013. "Sorting Through Affirmative Action: Two Field Experiments in Colombia," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 150, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  5. Alasdair Brown & Subhasish M. Chowdhury, 2014. "The Hidden Perils of Affirmative Action: Sabotage in Handicap Contests," University of East Anglia Applied and Financial Economics Working Paper Series 062, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  6. Balafoutas, Loukas & Sutter, Matthias, 2010. "Gender, Competition and the Efficiency of Policy Interventions," IZA Discussion Papers 4955, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Sean P. Hargreaves Heap & Abhijit Ramalingam & Siddharth Ramalingam & Brock V. Stoddard, 2013. "Inequality and Effort: An Experiment on Competition Between Teams," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 13-08, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  8. Corgnet, Brice & Sutan, Angela & Veszteg, Róbert F., 2011. "My teammate, myself and I: Experimental evidence on equity and equality norms," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 347-355, August.
  9. Laurence Kranich, 2012. "A Simple Theoretical Argument for Affrmative Action," Discussion Papers 12-05, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  10. Bracha, Anat & Cohen, Alma & Conell-Price, Lynn, 2013. "Affirmative action and stereotype threat," Working Papers 13-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  11. Louis-Philippe Morin, 2013. "Do Men and Women Respond Differently to Competition? Evidence from a Major Education Reform," Working Papers E1305E, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.

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