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Statistical Discrimination or Prejudice? A Large Sample Field Experiment

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journal contribution
posted on 01.07.2012, 00:00 authored by Michael Ewens, Bryan Tomlin, Liang Choon Wang

A model of racial discrimination provides testable implications for two features of statistical discriminators: differential treatment of signals by race and heterogeneous experience that shapes perception. We construct an experiment in the U.S. rental apartment market that distinguishes statistical discrimination from taste-based discrimination. Responses from over 14,000 rental inquiries with varying applicant quality show that landlords treat identical information from applicants with African-American and white sounding names differently. This differential treatment varies by neighborhood racial composition and signal type in a way consistent with statistical discrimination and in contrast to patterns predicted by a model of taste-based discrimination

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01/07/2012

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