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Games and Discrimination: Lessons From the Weakest Link

Listed author(s):
  • Antonovics, Kate
  • Arcidiacono, Peter
  • Walsh, Randall

Empirically determining whether wage differentials arise because of discrimination is extremely difficult, and distinguishing between different theories of discrimination is harder still. This paper exploits a number of unique features of a high-stakes television game show to determine which contestants discriminate and why. In the show, contestants take turns answering a series of trivia questions, and, at the end of each round of questions, one contestant is voted off by the other players in the round. Our results suggest no evidence of discriminatory voting patterns by males against females or by whites against blacks. However, somewhat surprisingly, we find that in the early rounds of the game women appear to discriminate against men. We test three competing theories for the voting behavior of women: preference-based discrimination, statistical discrimination and strategic discrimination. In doing so, we highlight the types of experimental designs that could be used to distinguish between these theories. Only preference-based discrimination is consistent with the voting patterns.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC San Diego in its series University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt3871w41j.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2003
Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsdec:qt3871w41j
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  1. Chaim Fershtman & Uri Gneezy, 2001. "Discrimination in a Segmented Society: An Experimental Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 351-377.
  2. Robert Gertner, 1993. "Game Shows and Economic Behavior: Risk-Taking on "Card Sharks"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 507-521.
  3. David Neumark & Roy J. Bank & Kyle D. Van Nort, 1996. "Sex Discrimination in Restaurant Hiring: An Audit Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(3), pages 915-941.
  4. Judith K. Hellerstein & David Neumark & Kenneth R. Troske, 2002. "Market Forces and Sex Discrimination," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(2), pages 353-380.
  5. Levitt, Steven D, 2004. "Testing Theories of Discrimination: Evidence from Weakest Link," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 431-452, October.
  6. Bennett, Randall W. & Hickman, Kent A., 1993. "Rationality and the 'price is right'," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 99-105, May.
  7. Berk, Jonathan B & Hughson, Eric & Vandezande, Kirk, 1996. "The Price Is Right, but Are the Bids? An Investigation of Rational Decision Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 954-970, September.
  8. Cecilia Rouse & Claudia Goldin, 2000. "Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of "Blind" Auditions on Female Musicians," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 715-741, September.
  9. Davis, Douglas D., 1987. "Maximal quality selection and discrimination in employment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 97-112, March.
  10. Lundberg, Shelly J & Startz, Richard, 1983. "Private Discrimination and Social Intervention in Competitive Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 340-347, June.
  11. Mason, Charles F. & Phillips, Owen R. & Redington, Douglas B., 1991. "The role of gender in a non-cooperative game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 215-235, March.
  12. Oettinger, Gerald S, 1996. "Statistical Discrimination and the Early Career Evolution of the Black-White Wage Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 52-78, January.
  13. Orley Ashenfelter & Timothy Hannan, 1986. "Sex Discrimination and Product Market Competition: The Case of the Banking Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 149-173.
  14. Dennis J. Aigner & Glen G. Cain, 1977. "Statistical Theories of Discrimination in Labor Markets," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 30(2), pages 175-187, January.
  15. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 2001. "Employer Learning and Statistical Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 313-350.
  16. Rafael Tenorio & Timothy N. Cason, 2002. "To Spin or Not to Spin? Natural and Laboratory Experiments from "The Price is Right"," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 170-195, January.
  17. Holm, Hakan J., 2000. "Gender-Based Focal Points," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 292-314, August.
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