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Is It How You Look or Speak That Matters? - An Experimental Study Exploring the Mechanisms of Ethnic Discrimination

  • Rödin, Magnus

    ()

    (Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS)

  • Özcan, Gülay

    ()

    (Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS)

Registered author(s):

    Using a unique laboratory experiment where subjects are asked to guess the test performance of candidates presented by facial portraits and voice messages, this paper explores the following questions: Are beliefs about performance affected by if a candidate is perceived to have looks that are non-stereotypical for the dominant population and do these beliefs change if the candidate has native-like versus accented speech? The experiment is conducted in Sweden and the results show that candidates not perceived as stereotypically Swedish are considered to be worse performers. These beliefs are found in within-gender but not in cross-gender evaluations and are not eliminated when additional performance-related information about the candidates is provided. When candidates are presented by both looks and speech, differential evaluations based on looks disappear. Instead, we find strong negative beliefs about performance for candidates that speak Swedish with a foreign accent implying that ethnic stereotypes associated with speech override stereotypes associated with appearance. The negative beliefs associated with foreign-accented speech are not supported by corresponding mean differences in the candidates’ actual test performance.

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    Paper provided by Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS in its series SULCIS Working Papers with number 2011:3.

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    Length: 51 pages
    Date of creation: 04 Apr 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:sulcis:2011_003
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS, Stockholm University, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden
    Web page: http://www.su.se/sulcis

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    1. Dickinson, David L. & Oaxaca, Ronald L., 2006. "Statistical Discrimination in Labor Markets: An Experimental Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 2305, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    3. Åslund, Olof & Nordström Skans, Oskar, 2007. "Do anonymous job application procedures level the playing field?," Working Paper Series 2007:31, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    4. Bouckaert, Jan & Dhaene, Geert, 2004. "Inter-ethnic trust and reciprocity: results of an experiment with small businessmen," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 869-886, November.
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    9. 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.
    10. Arai, Mahmood & Moa Bursell , Moa & Nekby, Lena, 2008. "Between Meritocracy and Ethnic Discrimination: The Gender Difference," Research Papers in Economics 2008:4, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    11. Nick Feltovich & Chris Papageorgiou, 2004. "An Experimental Study of Statistical Discrimination by Employers," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 837-849, April.
    12. John A. List, 2004. "The Nature and Extent of Discrimination in the Marketplace: Evidence from the Field," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 49-89, February.
    13. Davis, Douglas D., 1987. "Maximal quality selection and discrimination in employment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 97-112, March.
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    15. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 246-88, April.
    16. Castillo, Marco & Petrie, Ragan, 2010. "Discrimination in the lab: Does information trump appearance?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 50-59, January.
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