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Statistical Discrimination or Prejudice? A Large Sample Field Experiment

  • Michael Ewens
  • Bryan Tomlin
  • Liang Choon Wang

A model of racial discrimination provides testable implications for two features of statistical discriminators: differential treatment of signals by race and heterogeneous experience that shapes perception. We construct an experiment in the U.S. rental apartment market that distinguishes statistical discrimination from taste-based discrimination. Responses from over 14,000 rental inquiries with varying applicant quality show that landlords treat identical information from applicants with African-American and white sounding names differently. This differential treatment varies by neighborhood racial composition and signal type in a way consistent with statistical discrimination and in contrast to patterns predicted by a model of taste-based discrimination.

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Paper provided by Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business in its series GSIA Working Papers with number 2012-E37.

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Handle: RePEc:cmu:gsiawp:-121416828
Contact details of provider: Postal: Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
Web page: http://www.tepper.cmu.edu/

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  1. Ahmed, Ali & Hammarstedt, Mats, 2007. "Discrimination in the housing market — a field experiment on the internet," CAFO Working Papers 2007:1, Centre for Labour Market Policy Research (CAFO), School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University.
  2. M. Angeles Carnero Fernández & Lídia Farré Olalla & Mariano Bosch, 2009. "Information and discrimination in the rental housing market: evidence from a field experiment," Working Papers. Serie AD 2009-21, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  3. Jennifer L. Doleac & Luke C.D. Stein, 2013. "The Visible Hand: Race and Online Market Outcomes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123(11), pages F469-F492, November.
  4. Kate Antonovics & Brian G. Knight, 2009. "A New Look at Racial Profiling: Evidence from the Boston Police Department," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 163-177, February.
  5. 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.
  6. Daniel Paravisini & Veronica Rappoport & Enrichetta Ravina, 2010. "Risk Aversion and Wealth: Evidence from Person-to-Person Lending Portfolios," NBER Working Papers 16063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Hanson, Andrew & Hawley, Zackary, 2011. "Do landlords discriminate in the rental housing market? Evidence from an internet field experiment in US cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2-3), pages 99-114, September.
  8. John List, 2004. "The nature and extent of discrimination in the marketplace: Evidence from the field," Natural Field Experiments 00299, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. Kate Antonovics & Peter Arcidiacono & Randall Walsh, 2005. "Games and Discrimination: Lessons From The Weakest Link," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 918-947.
  10. Ayres, Ian & Siegelman, Peter, 1995. "Race and Gender Discrimination in Bargaining for a New Car," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 304-21, June.
  11. Siddique, Zahra, 2008. "Caste Based Discrimination: Evidence and Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 3737, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Balsa, Ana I. & McGuire, Thomas G., 2001. "Statistical discrimination in health care," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 881-907, November.
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