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Affirmative action or just discrimination? A study on the endogenous emergence of quotas

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  • Loukas Balafoutas
  • Brent J. Davis
  • Matthias Sutter

Abstract

Affirmative action rules are often implemented to promote women on labor markets. Little is known, however, about how and whether such rules emerge endogenously in groups of potentially affected subjects. We experimentally investigate whether subjects vote for affirmative action rules, against, or abstain. If approved by the vote, a quota rule is implemented that favors women in one treatment, but members of an artificially created group based on random color assignment in another treatment. We find that quota rules based on gender are implemented frequently and do not affect the performance of men and women in a contest. Quota rules based on an arbitrary criterion, however, are less often approved and lead to strong individual reactions of advantaged and disadvantaged group members and to efficiency losses. These results show that the effects of affirmative action policies largely depend on whether these policies are viewed favorably within the affected groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Loukas Balafoutas & Brent J. Davis & Matthias Sutter, 2016. "Affirmative action or just discrimination? A study on the endogenous emergence of quotas," Working Papers 2016-10, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  • Handle: RePEc:inn:wpaper:2016-10
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    Cited by:

    1. Banerjee, Ritwik & Gupta, Nabanita Datta & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2018. "The spillover effects of affirmative action on competitiveness and unethical behavior," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 567-604.
    2. Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah & Trieu, Chi & Willrodt, Jana, 2020. "Perceived Fairness and Consequences of Affirmative Action Policies," IZA Discussion Papers 13202, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Ou, Kai & Pan, Xiaofei, 2021. "The effect of task choice and task assignment on the gender earnings gap: An experimental study," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 136(C).
    4. Fallucchi, Francesco & Quercia, Simone, 2018. "Affirmative action and retaliation in experimental contests," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 23-40.
    5. Bieberstein, Frauke von & Jaussi, Stefanie & Vogel, Claudia, 2020. "Challenge-seeking and the gender wage gap: A lab-in-the-field experiment with cleaning personnel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 175(C), pages 251-277.
    6. Hanson, Andrew, 2017. "Do college admissions counselors discriminate? Evidence from a correspondence-based field experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 86-96.
    7. Demid Getik & Marco Islam & Margaret Samahita, 2021. "The Inelastic Demand for Affirmative Action," Working Papers 202112, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    8. Subhasish M. Chowdhury & Patricia Esteve-González & Anwesha Mukherjee, 2020. "Heterogeneity, Leveling the Playing Field, and Affirmative Action in Contests," Economics Series Working Papers 915, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    9. Francesco Fallucchi & Simone Quercia, 2016. "Affirmative action and retaliation in experimental contests," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 16-03, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    10. Edwin Ip & Andreas Leibbrandt & Joseph Vecci, 2018. "How Do Gender Quotas Affect Hierarchical Relationships? Complementary Evidence from a Respresentative Survey and Labor Market Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 6915, CESifo.
    11. Banerjee, Ritwik & Gupta, Nabanita Datta & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2018. "The spillover effects of affirmative action on competitiveness and unethical behavior," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 567-604.
    12. Victoire GIRARD, 2017. "Stabbed in the back: Does sabotage follow mandated political representation?," LEO Working Papers / DR LEO 2544, Orleans Economics Laboratory / Laboratoire d'Economie d'Orleans (LEO), University of Orleans.
    13. Victoire Girard, 2021. "Stabbed in the back? Mandated political representation and murders," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 56(4), pages 595-634, May.
    14. Catherine Eckel & Lata Gangadharan & Philip J. Grossman & Nina Xue, 2020. "The Gender Leadership Gap: Insights from Experiments," Monash Economics Working Papers 14-20, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    15. Felix Koelle, 2016. "Affirmative Action and Team Performance," Discussion Papers 2016-20, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    16. Lina Marcela Ramírez Leguizamón, 2019. "The paradox of equality policies and meritocracy in female leadership," Documentos CEDE 017371, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
    17. Eszter Czibor & Silvia Dominguez Martinez, 2019. "Never too Late: Gender Quotas in the Final Round of a Multistage Tournament," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(2), pages 319-363.
    18. Petters, Lea M. & Schröder, Marina, 2020. "Negative side effects of affirmative action: How quotas lead to distortions in performance evaluation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 130(C).
    19. Getik, Demid & Islam, Marco & Samahita, Margaret, 2021. "The Inelastic Demand for Affirmative Action," Working Papers 2021:7, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    20. Ji‐Hung Choi & Hannah Oh & John Bae & Sang‐Joon Kim, 2021. "Affirmative action and team performance: An agency theoretic perspective," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 42(5), pages 1183-1193, July.
    21. Edwin Ip & Andreas Leibbrandt & Joseph Vecci, 2020. "How Do Gender Quotas Affect Workplace Relationships? Complementary Evidence from a Representative Survey and Labor Market Experiments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(2), pages 805-822, February.
    22. Lea Petters & Marina Schroeder, 2017. "Justification as a Key Determinant of the Success of Affirmative Action," Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series 08-01, Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences.
    23. Kölle, Felix, 2017. "Affirmative action, cooperation, and the willingness to work in teams," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 50-62.
    24. Jeffrey A. Flory & Andreas Leibbrandt & Christina Rott & Olga Stoddard, 2021. "Increasing Workplace Diversity: Evidence from a Recruiting Experiment at a Fortune 500 Company," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 56(1), pages 73-92.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Affirmative action; competition; discrimination; experiment; voting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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