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To segregate, or to discriminate – that is the question: experiment on identity and social preferences


  • Blanco, M
  • Guerra, J. A.


How do various sources of social identity affect segregation and discrimination decisions? In our laboratory experiment, social identity originates either from similar preferences, income, ability, randomly or from shared socioeconomic status. For the latter, we exploit Colombia’s unique (public information) stratification system which assigns households to socioeconomic strata based on its residential block amenities. Subjects decide with whom to interact in a Dictator and Trust Game. We find high socioeconomic status senders segregate against out-group receivers in the Dictator Game, while low socioeconomic ones do so in the Trust Game. This segregation pattern is partly explained by payoff-maximizing behavior. In the Trust Game, we gather evidence for statistical discrimination. In the Dictator Game, evidence points to a taste for redistribution when identity originates from socioeconomic status or income level. No matter the source of identity, our subjects expect being segregated but not discriminated against.

Suggested Citation

  • Blanco, M & Guerra, J. A., 2020. "To segregate, or to discriminate – that is the question: experiment on identity and social preferences," Documentos de Trabajo 18407, Universidad del Rosario.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000092:018407

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mariana Blanco & Dirk Engelmann & Alexander Koch & Hans-Theo Normann, 2010. "Belief elicitation in experiments: is there a hedging problem?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 13(4), pages 412-438, December.
    2. Maria Bigoni & Stefania Bortolotti & Veronica Rattini, 2022. "A tale of two cities: an experiment on inequality and preferences," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 92(1), pages 189-222, February.
    3. Fabian Kosse & Thomas Deckers & Pia Pinger & Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch & Armin Falk, 2020. "The Formation of Prosociality: Causal Evidence on the Role of Social Environment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(2), pages 434-467.
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    5. Tremewan, James, 2010. "Group Identity and Coalition Formation: Experiments in a three?player divide the dollar Game," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 1020, CEPREMAP.
    6. Billur Aksoy & Catherine C. Eckel & Rick K. Wilson, 2018. "Can I Rely on You?," Games, MDPI, vol. 9(4), pages 1-14, October.
    7. Montalvo, Jose G. & Reynal-Querol, Marta, 2005. "Ethnic diversity and economic development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 293-323, April.
    8. Tom Lane, 2015. "Discrimination in the laboratory: a meta-analysis," Discussion Papers 2015-03, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    9. Francesco Bogliacino & Laura Jiménez Lozano & Daniel Reyes, 2018. "Socioeconomic stratification and stereotyping: lab-in-the-field evidence from Colombia," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 65(1), pages 77-118, March.
    10. James Andreoni & Nikos Nikiforakis & Jan Stoop, 2017. "Are the Rich More Selfish than the Poor, or Do They Just Have More Money? A Natural Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 23229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Falk, Armin & Zehnder, Christian, 2013. "A city-wide experiment on trust discrimination," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 15-27.
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    Cited by:

    1. Diego Aycinena & Mariana Blanco, 2023. "Negative Income Shocks, COVID, and Trust," Documentos de Trabajo 20802, Universidad del Rosario.
    2. Boris Ginzburg & José-Alberto Guerra, 2021. "Guns, pets, and strikes: an experiment on identity and political action," Documentos CEDE 19932, Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de Economía, CEDE.

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    More about this item


    Socioeconomic status; stratification; segregation; discrimination; laboratory experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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