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The power of competition: reducing or reinforcing discrimination?


  • Schwieren Christiane
  • Vendrik Maarten
  • Gijsel Peter de



Economic theory argues that competition can diminish discrimination in the labor market, while arguments from social psychology’s social-identity theory point into the opposite direction. We ran two experiments to test the psychological predictions in an ‘economic’ setting. Participants were categorized artificially and played a team game, facing either strong or weak competition. They further had to choose a new team member from either of the categories, and pay for enactment of their preference. Only under strong competition, subjects were willing to pay for their preference. The result gives qualified support to the prediction from social-identity theory.

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  • Schwieren Christiane & Vendrik Maarten & Gijsel Peter de, 2004. "The power of competition: reducing or reinforcing discrimination?," Research Memorandum 043, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:umamet:2004043

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    1. Chaim Fershtman & Uri Gneezy, 2001. "Discrimination in a Segmented Society: An Experimental Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 351-377.
    2. Comanor, William S, 1973. "Racial Discrimination in American Industry," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 40(160), pages 363-378, November.
    3. Maarten Vendrik & Christiane Schwieren, 2010. "Identification, screening and stereotyping in labour market discrimination," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 99(2), pages 141-171, March.
    4. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-661, September.
    5. Sheryl Ball & Catherine Eckel & Philip J. Grossman & William Zame, 2001. "Status in Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 161-188.
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