Games and Discrimination: Lessons From the Weakest Link
University of California, San Diego
Duke University - Department of Economics
Randall P. Walsh
University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics
UCSD Economics Working Paper No. 2003-03
Empirically determining whether wage differentials arise because of discrimination is extremely difficult, and distinguishing between different theories of discrimination is harder still. This paper exploits a number of unique features of a high-stakes television game show to determine which contestants discriminate and why. In the show, contestants take turns answering a series of trivia questions, and, at the end of each round of questions, one contestant is voted off by the other players in the round. Our results suggest no evidence of discriminatory voting patterns by males against females or by whites against blacks. However, somewhat surprisingly, we find that in the early rounds of the game women appear to discriminate against men. We test three competing theories for the voting behavior of women: Preference-based discrimination, statistical discrimination and strategic discrimination. In doing so, we highlight the types of experimental designs that could be used to distinguish between these theories. Only preference-based discrimination is consistent with the voting patterns.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
Keywords: Discrimination, Experiments, Games
JEL Classification: J7, C9, C7working papers series
Date posted: April 30, 2003
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