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

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  • Lane, Tom
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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014292115001907
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): 90 (2016)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 375-402

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:90:y:2016:i:c:p:375-402
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2015.11.011
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer

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    1. Bellemare, Charles & Kroger, Sabine, 2007. "On representative social capital," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 183-202, January.
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    4. Jon Anderson & Stephen Burks & Jeffrey Carpenter & Lorenz Götte & Karsten Maurer & Daniele Nosenzo & Ruth Potter & Kim Rocha & Aldo Rustichini, 2013. "Self-selection and variations in the laboratory measurement of other-regarding preferences across subject pools: evidence from one college student and two adult samples," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 16(2), pages 170-189, June.
    5. 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).
    6. Johnson, Noel D. & Mislin, Alexandra A., 2011. "Trust games: A meta-analysis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 865-889.
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    10. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:3:y:2007:i:68:p:1-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Hopfensitz, Astrid, 2009. "Previous outcomes and reference dependence: A meta study of repeated investment tasks with and without restricted feedback," MPRA Paper 16096, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Tyler Prante & Robert P. Berrens & Jennifer A. Thacher, 2007. "Evaluating coasean bargaining experiments with meta-analysis," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 3(68), pages 1-7.
    13. Jones, Garett, 2008. "Are smarter groups more cooperative? Evidence from prisoner's dilemma experiments, 1959-2003," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 489-497, December.
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