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The Incentive Effects of Affirmative Action in a Real-Effort Tournament

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  • Caterina Calsamiglia
  • Jörg Franke
  • Pedro Rey-Biel

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. Critics argue that they distort incentives, resulting in lower individual performance, and that the selected pool of tournament winners may be inefficient. In this paper, we study the empirical validity of such claims in a real-effort pair-wise tournament between children from two similar schools who systematically differ in how much training they received ex-ante in the task at hand. Our results show that performance was not reduced for either advantaged or disadvantaged subjects and that it was in fact enhanced. Additionally, while affirmative action balanced the proportion of disadvantaged individuals winning their respective tournament, the average performance of the pool of winners only decreased slightly.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 404.

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Date of creation: Jul 2009
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:404

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Keywords: Affirmative action; tournament; real-effort; experiment; sudoku;

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References

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  1. 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.
  2. Jose Apesteguia & Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2008. "Psychological pressure in competitive environments: Evidence from a randomized natural experiment," Economics Working Papers 1116, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. 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..
  2. Matthias Dahm & Patricia Esteve, . "Affirmative Action through Extra Prizes," Discussion Papers 2014-08, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  3. Bracha, Anat & Cohen, Alma & Conell-Price, Lynn, 2013. "Affirmative action and stereotype threat," Working Papers 13-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  4. Balafoutas, Loukas & Sutter, Matthias, 2010. "Gender, Competition and the Efficiency of Policy Interventions," IZA Discussion Papers 4955, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
  6. Loukas Balafoutas & Rudolf Kerschbamer & Matthias Sutter, 2011. "Distributional Preferences and Competitive Behavior," Working Papers 2011-04, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  7. 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.
  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. 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..
  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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