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Ethnic and Social Barriers to Cooperation: Experiments Studying the Extent and Nature of Discrimination in Urban Peru

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  • Máximo Torero
  • Marco Castillo
  • Ragan Petrie

Abstract

This paper presents a series of experiments on discrimination in urban Lima, Peru. The experiments exploit degrees of information on performance as a way to assess how personal characteristics affect how people sort into groups, and the results show that behavior is not correlated with personal socio-economic and racial characteristics. However, people do use personal characteristics to sort themselves into groups. Height is a robust predictor of being desirable, as is being a woman. Looking indigenous makes one less desirable, and looking “white” increases one’s desirability. Interestingly, our experiments show that once information on performance is provided, almost all evidence of discrimination is eliminated. Although there is evidence of stereotyping or preference-based discrimination, clear information trumps discrimination.

Suggested Citation

  • Máximo Torero & Marco Castillo & Ragan Petrie, 2008. "Ethnic and Social Barriers to Cooperation: Experiments Studying the Extent and Nature of Discrimination in Urban Peru," Research Department Publications 3246, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:3246
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. P. A. Riach & J. Rich, 2002. "Field Experiments of Discrimination in the Market Place," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 480-518, November.
    2. Markus M. Mobius & Tanya S. Rosenblat, 2006. "Why Beauty Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 222-235, March.
    3. Andreoni, James & Petrie, Ragan, 2004. "Public goods experiments without confidentiality: a glimpse into fund-raising," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1605-1623, July.
    4. Bogomolnaia, Anna & Jackson, Matthew O., 2002. "The Stability of Hedonic Coalition Structures," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 201-230, February.
    5. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-1194, December.
    6. John A. List, 2004. "The Nature and Extent of Discrimination in the Marketplace: Evidence from the Field," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 49-89.
    7. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
    8. Marco Castillo & Ragan Petrie, 2006. "Discrimination in the Lab: Experiments Exploring the Impact of Performance and Appearance on Sorting and Cooperation," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-20, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, revised Dec 2006.
    9. Carter, Michael R. & Castillo, Marco, 2003. "An Experimental Approach to Social Capital in South Africa," Staff Paper Series 448, University of Wisconsin, Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    10. Nopo, Hugo R. & Saavedra, Jaime & Torero, Maximo, 2004. "Ethnicity and Earnings in Urban Peru," IZA Discussion Papers 980, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Bohnet, Iris & Frey, Bruno S., 1999. "The sound of silence in prisoner's dilemma and dictator games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 43-57, January.
    12. Burnham, Terence C., 2003. "Engineering altruism: a theoretical and experimental investigation of anonymity and gift giving," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 133-144, January.
    13. Marco Castillo & Ragan Petrie, 2007. "Discrimination in the Warplace: Evidence from a Civil War in Peru," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2007-10, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alberto Chong & Hugo Ñopo, 2007. "Discriminación en América Latina: Eso que (casi) todos vemos? (Discrimination in Latin America: An Elephant in the Room?)," Research Department Publications 4537, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    2. Alberto E. Chong & Hugo R. Ñopo, 2007. "Discrimination in Latin America: An Elephant in the Room?," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 1960, Inter-American Development Bank.

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