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A matter of transient anonymity: Discrimination by gender and foreignness in online auctions

  • von Essen, Emma

    ()

    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University)

  • Karlsson, Jonas Karlsson

    ()

    (Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University.)

This study shows that transient anonymity affects buyer discrimination based on seller’s gender and foreignness in online auctions. Sellers’ names are categorized by gender and foreignness. Half of the sellers’ disclose their names in the usernames and the other half employ anonymous usernames, concealing gender and foreignness. After the price is set and the auction ends, the seller’s name is always disclosed to the buyer by eBay. We explore buyers’ discrimination in willingness to pay, measured as price. Furthermore, we study how buyers’ discrimination in providing feedback is affected by sellers having an anonymous username or not (measured after seller name is known to the buyer). Our results indicate only some evidence of buyer discrimination in willingness to pay. However, interestingly we find that anonymity matters for discrimination; among sellers employing anonymous usernames male sellers with foreign-sounding names receive fewer pieces of feedback than non-foreign female sellers. This is not found among groups of sellers whose names were revealed in the usernames. This discrimination is only present among female and not among male buyers.

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Paper provided by Stockholm University, Department of Economics in its series Research Papers in Economics with number 2013:6.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 22 Feb 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2013_0006
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