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The Dynamics of Discrimination: Theory and Evidence

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  • J. Aislinn Bohren
  • Alex Imas
  • Michael Rosenberg

Abstract

We model the dynamics of discrimination and show how its evolution can identify the underlying source. We test these theoretical predictions in a field experiment on a large online platform where users post content that is evaluated by other users on the platform. We assign posts to accounts that exogenously vary by gender and evaluation histories. With no prior evaluations, women face significant discrimination. However, following a sequence of positive evaluations, the direction of discrimination reverses: women's posts are favored over men's. Interpreting these results through the lens of our model, this dynamic reversal implies discrimination driven by biased beliefs.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Aislinn Bohren & Alex Imas & Michael Rosenberg, 2019. "The Dynamics of Discrimination: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(10), pages 3395-3436, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:109:y:2019:i:10:p:3395-3436
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20171829
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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