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Revealing Stereotypes: Evidence from Immigrants in Schools


  • Alesina, Alberto

    (Harvard University)

  • Carlana, Michela

    (Harvard Kennedy School)

  • La Ferrara, Eliana

    (Bocconi University)

  • Pinotti, Paolo

    (Bocconi University)


If individuals become aware of their stereotypes, do they change their behavior? We study this question in the context of teachers' bias in grading immigrants and native children in middle schools. Teachers give lower grades to immigrant students compared to natives who have the same performance on standardized, blindly-graded tests. We then relate differences in grading to teachers' stereotypes, elicited through an Implicit Association Test (IAT). We find that math teachers with stronger stereotypes give lower grades to immigrants compared to natives with the same performance. Literature teachers do not differentially grade immigrants based on their own stereotypes. Finally, we share teachers' own IAT score with them, randomizing the timing of disclosure around the date on which they assign term grades. All teachers informed of their stereotypes before term grading increase grades assigned to immigrants. Revealing stereotypes may be a powerful intervention to decrease discrimination, but it may also induce a reaction from individuals who were not acting in a biased way.

Suggested Citation

  • Alesina, Alberto & Carlana, Michela & La Ferrara, Eliana & Pinotti, Paolo, 2018. "Revealing Stereotypes: Evidence from Immigrants in Schools," IZA Discussion Papers 11981, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11981

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alberto Alesina & Armando Miano & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2023. "Immigration and Redistribution," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 90(1), pages 1-39.
    2. Lucia Corno & Eliana La Ferrara & Justine Burns, 2022. "Interaction, Stereotypes, and Performance: Evidence from South Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 112(12), pages 3848-3875, December.
    3. Facchini, Giovanni & Margalit, Yotam & Nakata, Hiroyuki, 2022. "Countering public opposition to immigration: The impact of information campaigns," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 141(C).
    4. Will Dobbie & Jacob Goldin & Crystal S. Yang, 2018. "The Effects of Pretrial Detention on Conviction, Future Crime, and Employment: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Judges," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(2), pages 201-240, February.
    5. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2014. "A Test of Racial Bias in Capital Sentencing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(11), pages 3397-3433, November.
    6. Eric P. Bettinger, 2012. "Paying to Learn: The Effect of Financial Incentives on Elementary School Test Scores," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 686-698, August.
    7. Fernando Botelho & Ricardo Madeira, Marcos A. Rangel, 2015. "Racial Discrimination in Grading: Evidence from Brazil," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2015_04, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    8. Simon Burgess & Ellen Greaves, 2013. "Test Scores, Subjective Assessment, and Stereotyping of Ethnic Minorities," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(3), pages 535-576.
    9. Decio Coviello & Nicola Persico, 2015. "An Economic Analysis of Black-White Disparities in the New York Police Department's Stop-and-Frisk Program," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 315-360.
    10. La Ferrara, Eliana & Carlana, Michela & Pinotti, Paolo, 2017. "Goals and Gaps: Educational Careers of Immigrant Children," CEPR Discussion Papers 12538, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Altonji, Joseph G. & Blank, Rebecca M., 1999. "Race and gender in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 48, pages 3143-3259, Elsevier.
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    14. Carlana, Michela, 2018. "Implicit Stereotypes: Evidence from Teachers’ Gender Bias," Working Paper Series rwp18-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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    More about this item


    immigrants; teachers; implicit stereotypes; IAT; bias in grading;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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