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Is It How You Look or Speak That Matters? - An Experimental Study Exploring the Mechanisms of Ethnic Discrimination

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Author Info

  • Rödin, Magnus

    ()
    (Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS)

  • Özcan, Gülay

    ()
    (Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS)

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    Abstract

    Using a unique laboratory experiment where subjects are asked to guess the test performance of candidates presented by facial portraits and voice messages, this paper explores the following questions: Are beliefs about performance affected by if a candidate is perceived to have looks that are non-stereotypical for the dominant population and do these beliefs change if the candidate has native-like versus accented speech? The experiment is conducted in Sweden and the results show that candidates not perceived as stereotypically Swedish are considered to be worse performers. These beliefs are found in within-gender but not in cross-gender evaluations and are not eliminated when additional performance-related information about the candidates is provided. When candidates are presented by both looks and speech, differential evaluations based on looks disappear. Instead, we find strong negative beliefs about performance for candidates that speak Swedish with a foreign accent implying that ethnic stereotypes associated with speech override stereotypes associated with appearance. The negative beliefs associated with foreign-accented speech are not supported by corresponding mean differences in the candidates’ actual test performance.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS in its series SULCIS Working Papers with number 2011:3.

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    Length: 51 pages
    Date of creation: 04 Apr 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:sulcis:2011_003

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    Postal: Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS, Stockholm University, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden
    Web page: http://www.su.se/sulcis
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    Related research

    Keywords: Experiment; Appearance; Speech; Beliefs; Performance; Stereotypes;

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    References

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    1. Nick Feltovich & Chris Papageorgiou, 2004. "An Experimental Study of Statistical Discrimination by Employers," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 837-849, April.
    2. Davis, Douglas D., 1987. "Maximal quality selection and discrimination in employment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 97-112, March.
    3. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jeff E. Biddle, 1993. "Beauty and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Ali M. Ahmed & Lina Andersson & Mats Hammarstedt, 2010. "Can Discrimination in the Housing Market Be Reduced by Increasing the Information about the Applicants?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 86(1), pages 79-90.
    5. David L. Dickinson & Ronald L. Oaxaca, 2009. "Statistical Discrimination in Labor Markets: An Experimental Analysis," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 16-31, July.
    6. Mobius, Markus & Rosenblat, Tanya, 2010. "Why Beauty Matters," Staff General Research Papers 32112, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    7. Åslund, Olof & Nordström Skans, Oskar, 2007. "Do anonymous job application procedures level the playing field?," Working Paper Series, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy 2007:31, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    8. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 246-88, April.
    9. Arai, Mahmood & Bursell, Moa & Nekby, Lena, 2008. "Between Meritocracy and Ethnic Discrimination: The Gender Difference," SULCIS Working Papers, Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS 2008:2, Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS.
    10. Rashid, Saman, 2004. "Immigrant Earnings, Assimilation and Heterogeneity," UmeÃ¥ Economic Studies 622, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    11. John List, 2004. "The nature and extent of discrimination in the marketplace: Evidence from the field," Natural Field Experiments 00299, The Field Experiments Website.
    12. Bouckaert, Jan & Dhaene, Geert, 2004. "Inter-ethnic trust and reciprocity: results of an experiment with small businessmen," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 869-886, November.
    13. Heshmati, Almas & Maasoumi, Esfandiar, 1998. "Stochastic Dominance Amongst Swedish Income Distributions," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 279, Stockholm School of Economics.
    14. Castillo, Marco & Petrie, Ragan, 2010. "Discrimination in the lab: Does information trump appearance?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 50-59, January.
    15. Mats Hammarstedt & Ghazi Shukur, 2006. "Immigrants' Relative Earnings in Sweden - A Cohort Analysis," LABOUR, CEIS, CEIS, vol. 20(2), pages 285-323, 06.
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