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Discrimination in the laboratory: A meta-analysis of economics experiments

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  • Lane, Tom

Abstract

Economists are increasingly using experiments to study and measure discrimination between groups. In a meta-analysis containing 441 results from 77 studies, we find groups significantly discriminate against each other in roughly a third of cases. Discrimination varies depending upon the type of group identity being studied: it is stronger when identity is artificially induced in the laboratory than when the subject pool is divided by ethnicity or nationality, and higher still when participants are split into socially or geographically distinct groups. In gender discrimination experiments, there is significant favouritism towards the opposite gender. There is evidence for both taste-based and statistical discrimination; tastes drive the general pattern of discrimination against out-groups, but statistical beliefs are found to affect discrimination in specific instances. Relative to all other decision-making contexts, discrimination is much stronger when participants are asked to allocate payoffs between passive in-group and out-group members. Students and non-students appear to discriminate equally. We discuss possible interpretations and implications of our findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Lane, Tom, 2016. "Discrimination in the laboratory: A meta-analysis of economics experiments," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 375-402.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:90:y:2016:i:c:p:375-402
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2015.11.011
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Falk, Armin & Zehnder, Christian, 2007. "Discrimination and In-Group Favoritism in a Citywide Trust Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2765, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Horstmann, Elaine & Blankenberg, Ann-Kathrin & Schneider, Tim, 2017. "Cooperation in public goods games: Enhancing effects of group identity and competition," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 324, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    2. Abigail Barr & Tom Lane & Daniele Nosenzo, 2015. "On the social appropriateness of discrimination," Discussion Papers 2015-25, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    3. Dickinson, David L. & Masclet, David & Peterle, Emmanuel, 2018. "Discrimination as favoritism: The private benefits and social costs of in-group favoritism in an experimental labor market," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 220-236.
    4. Francisco B. Galarza, 2017. "Trust and Trustworthiness in College: An Experimental Analysis," Working Papers 17-03, Centro de Investigación, Universidad del Pacífico.
    5. repec:eee:ecolec:v:149:y:2018:i:c:p:74-79 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Grimm, Stefan & Klimm, Felix, 2018. "Blaming the Refugees? Experimental Evidence On Responsibility Attribution," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 83, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    7. Robert Böhm & Jürgen Fleiß & Robert Rybnicek, 2017. "Social Preferences in Inter-Group Conflict," Working Paper Series, Social and Economic Sciences 2017-06, Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Karl-Franzens-University Graz.
    8. repec:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:32-46 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Kitesa, Rahel, 2018. "On the design and implementation of environmental conservation mechanisms : Evidence from field experiments," Other publications TiSEM cda8497d-6dcf-4092-b815-1, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Discrimination; Meta-analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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    1. Meta-Analysis in Economics

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