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Racial Bias in Expert Quality Assessment: A Study of Newspaper Movie Reviews

39 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2009 Last revised: 13 May 2014

Lona Fowdur

Economists Incorporated

Vrinda Kadiyali

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Jeffrey Prince

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Economics & Public Policy

Date Written: October 6, 2009

Abstract

Newspaper critics' movie reviews are often used by potential movie viewers as signals of expert quality assessment. We investigate the existence and revenue impact of racial bias in these reviews. Using an expansive, novel dataset spanning 2003-2007, we find ratings for movies with a black lead actor and all white supporting cast are approximately 6% lower than for other racial compositions. These findings appear consistent with implicit discrimination, and result in an average revenue loss of up to 4%, or $2.57 million, per movie. Robustness checks show it is unlikely these results are driven by unobserved heterogeneity or random correlations.

Keywords: racial bias, quality assessment, expert ratings, movies, implicit discrimination

Suggested Citation

Fowdur, Lona and Kadiyali, Vrinda and Prince, Jeffrey, Racial Bias in Expert Quality Assessment: A Study of Newspaper Movie Reviews (October 6, 2009). Johnson School Research Paper Series No. 7-2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1483835

Lona Fowdur

Economists Incorporated ( email )

Washington, DC 20036
United States
2028335244 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ei.com

Vrinda Kadiyali

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-1985 (Phone)
607-254-4590 (Fax)

Jeffrey Prince (Contact Author)

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Economics & Public Policy ( email )

Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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