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Do workers discriminate against their out-group employers? Evidence from the gig economy

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  • Asad, Sher Afghan
  • Banerjee, Ritwik
  • Bhattacharya, Joydeep

Abstract

We study possible worker-to-employer discrimination manifested via social preferences in an online labor market. Specifically, we ask, do workers exhibit positive social preferences for an out-race employer relative to an otherwise-identical, own-race one? We run a well-powered, model-based experiment wherein we recruit 6,000 workers from Amazon’s M-Turk platform for a real-effort task and randomly (and unobtrusively) reveal to them the racial identity of their non-fictitious employer. Strikingly, we find strong evidence of race-based altruism – white workers, even when they do not benefit personally, work relatively harder to generate more income for black employers. Self-declared white Republicans and Independents exhibit significantly more altruism relative to Democrats. Notably, the altruism does not seem to be driven by race-specific beliefs about the income status of the employers. Our results suggest the possibility that pro-social behavior of whites toward blacks, atypical in traditional labor markets, may emerge in the gig economy where associative (dis)taste is naturally muted due to limited social contact.

Suggested Citation

  • Asad, Sher Afghan & Banerjee, Ritwik & Bhattacharya, Joydeep, 2020. "Do workers discriminate against their out-group employers? Evidence from the gig economy," ISU General Staff Papers 202002230800001098, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:isu:genstf:202002230800001098
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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