Attention Discrimination: Theory and Field Experiments with Monitoring Information Acquisition

47 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2014

See all articles by Vojtech Bartos

Vojtech Bartos

Charles University in Prague - CERGE-EI, a joint workplace of Charles University and the Economics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Michal Bauer

Charles University in Prague - Institute of Economic Studies; CERGE-EI

Julie Chytilová

Charles University in Prague - Department of Economics

Filip Matějka

Charles University in Prague - CERGE-EI, a joint workplace of Charles University and the Economics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Abstract

We link two important ideas: attention is scarce and lack of information about an individual drives discrimination in selection decisions. Our model of allocation of costly attention implies that applicants from negatively stereotyped groups face "attention discrimination": less attention in highly selective cherry-picking markets, where more attention helps applicants, and more attention in lemon-dropping markets, where it harms them. To test the prediction, we integrate tools to monitor information acquisition into correspondence field experiments. In both countries we study we find that unfavorable signals, minority names, or unemployment, systematically reduce employers' efforts to inspect resumes. Also consistent with the model, in the rental housing market, which is much less selective than labor markets, we find landlords acquire more information about minority relative to majority applicants. We discuss implications of endogenous attention for magnitude and persistence of discrimination in selection decisions, returns to human capital and, potentially, for policy.

Keywords: discrimination, attention, field experiment, monitoring information acquisition

JEL Classification: C93, D83, J15, J71

Suggested Citation

Bartos, Vojtech and Bauer, Michal and Chytilová, Julie and Matějka, Filip, Attention Discrimination: Theory and Field Experiments with Monitoring Information Acquisition. IZA Discussion Paper No. 8058, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2420703 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2420703

Vojtech Bartos (Contact Author)

Charles University in Prague - CERGE-EI, a joint workplace of Charles University and the Economics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences ( email )

Politickych veznu 7
Prague, 111 21
Czech Republic

HOME PAGE: http://www.cerge-ei.cz

Michal Bauer

Charles University in Prague - Institute of Economic Studies ( email )

Opletalova 26
Prague 1, 110 00
Czech Republic
+420 222 112 317 (Phone)
+420 222 112 304 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://ies.fsv.cuni.cz/index.php?module=kernel&action=user&id_user=183&lng=en_GB

CERGE-EI ( email )

Politickych veznu 7
Prague, 111 21
Czech Republic

Julie Chytilová

Charles University in Prague - Department of Economics ( email )

Opletalova 26
Prague 1, 163 00
Czech Republic

HOME PAGE: http://ies.fsv.cuni.cz/index.php?module=kernel&action=user&id_user=130&lng=cs_CZ

Filip Matějka

Charles University in Prague - CERGE-EI, a joint workplace of Charles University and the Economics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences ( email )

Politickych veznu 7
Prague, 111 21
Czech Republic

HOME PAGE: http://www.cerge-ei.cz

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