Beautiful or White? Discrimination in Group Formation

38 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2012

See all articles by Marco Castillo

Marco Castillo

Department of Economics, Texas A&M University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Ragan Petrie

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics; University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research

Maximo Torero

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Date Written: February 2012

Abstract

We explore the importance of appearance in the endogenous formation of groups using a series of experiments. Participants get to choose who they want in their group, and we manipulate the amount of payoff-relevant information on behavior, thereby making it costly to discriminate based on appearance. We draw participants from a representative sample of a demographically and economically diverse population. This allows broader applicability of our results. We find that beauty predicts desirability as a group member, yet it might mask racial preferences. Payoff-relevant information reduces discrimination a great deal, yet discrimination based on appearance remains. Although their behavior is the same, unattractive participants have a one in ten chance of making it to the most preferred group, whereas attractive participants have a one in three chance. Our results are most consistent with taste-based, rather than statistical, discrimination.

Keywords: Discrimination, Group Formation, Appearance

Suggested Citation

Castillo, Marco and Petrie, Ragan and Torero, Maximo, Beautiful or White? Discrimination in Group Formation (February 2012). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 12-29. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2087100 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2087100

Marco Castillo (Contact Author)

Department of Economics, Texas A&M University ( email )

Allen Building
4228 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-3137
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Ragan Petrie

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics ( email )

4228 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-4228
United States

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research ( email )

Level 5, FBE Building, 111 Barry Street
Parkville, Victoria 3010
Australia

Maximo Torero

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

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