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

  • Rödin, Magnus

    ()

    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University)

  • Özcan, Gülay

    ()

    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University)

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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    File URL: http://www2.ne.su.se/paper/wp11_12.pdf
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    Paper provided by Stockholm University, Department of Economics in its series Research Papers in Economics with number 2011:12.

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    Length: 51 pages
    Date of creation: 01 Apr 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2011_0012
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
    Phone: +46 8 16 20 00
    Fax: +46 8 16 14 25
    Web page: http://www.ne.su.se/
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    1. Arai, Mahmood & Bursell, Moa & Nekby, Lena, 2008. "Between Meritocracy and Ethnic Discrimination: The Gender Difference," IZA Discussion Papers 3467, 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. 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.
    5. Rashid, Saman, 2004. "Immigrant Earnings, Assimilation and Heterogeneity," Umeå Economic Studies 622, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
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    7. 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.
    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. Mobius, Markus & Rosenblat, Tanya, 2006. "Why Beauty Matters," Scholarly Articles 3043406, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    10. 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.
    11. Mats Hammarstedt & Ghazi Shukur, 2006. "Immigrants' Relative Earnings in Sweden - A Cohort Analysis," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 20(2), pages 285-323, 06.
    12. Esfandiar Maasoumi & Almas Heshmati, 2000. "Stochastic dominance amongst swedish income distributions," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 287-320.
    13. Carlsson, Magnus & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2006. "Evidence of Ethnic Discrimination in the Swedish Labor Market Using Experimental Data," IZA Discussion Papers 2281, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Davis, Douglas D., 1987. "Maximal quality selection and discrimination in employment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 97-112, March.
    15. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jeff E. Biddle, 1993. "Beauty and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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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