Statistical Discrimination or Prejudice? A Large Sample Field Experiment

48 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2011 Last revised: 5 Jun 2013

See all articles by Michael Ewens

Michael Ewens

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Bryan Tomlin

Loyola University of Chicago - School of Business Administration - Department of Economics

Liang Choon Wang

Monash University - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 16, 2012

Abstract

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 manner consistent with statistical discrimination and in contrast to patterns predicted by a model of taste-based discrimination.

Keywords: discrimination, field experiment, statistical discrimination, housing markets

JEL Classification: J15, J70, J71, R3

Suggested Citation

Ewens, Michael and Tomlin, Bryan and Wang, Liang Choon, Statistical Discrimination or Prejudice? A Large Sample Field Experiment (April 16, 2012). Review of Economics and Statistics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1816702 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1816702

Michael Ewens (Contact Author)

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences ( email )

1200 East California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91125
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Bryan Tomlin

Loyola University of Chicago - School of Business Administration - Department of Economics ( email )

820 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Liang Choon Wang

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/liangchoonwang/

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