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The Tradeoffs of Transparency: Measuring Discrimination When Subjects Are Told They Are in an Experiment


  • Amanda Agan
  • Bo Cowgill
  • Laura Gee


Correspondence audit studies have sent almost one-hundred-thousand resumes without informing subjects they are in a study - increasing realism, but without being fully transparent. We study the potential trade-offs of this lack of transparency by running a hiring field experiment with recruiters in a natural setting. One group of recruiters is told they are screening for an employer, and another is told they are part of an academic study. Job applicants' gender is randomly assigned. When subjects are told they are in an experiment, callback rates and willingness-to-pay for male candidates decline relative to female candidates (with no detectable change for female candidates). This suggests that telling subjects they are in an experiment would underestimate gender inequality.

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  • Amanda Agan & Bo Cowgill & Laura Gee, 2023. "The Tradeoffs of Transparency: Measuring Discrimination When Subjects Are Told They Are in an Experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00781, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00781

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