Racial Discrimination in Local Public Services: A Field Experiment in the US

29 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2015

See all articles by Corrado Giulietti

Corrado Giulietti

Department of Economics

Mirco Tonin

Free University of Bozen-Bolzano; IZA; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Michael Vlassopoulos

University of Southampton; IZA -- Institute for the Study of Labor

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 30, 2015

Abstract

Discrimination in access to public services can act as a major obstacle towards addressing racial inequality. We examine whether racial discrimination exists in access to a wide spectrum of public services in the US. We carry out an email correspondence study in which we pose simple queries to more than 19,000 local public service providers. We find that emails are less likely to receive a response if signed by a black-sounding name compared to a white-sounding name. Given a response rate of 72% for white senders, emails from putatively black senders are almost 4 percentage points less likely to receive an answer. We also find that responses to queries coming from black names are less likely to have a cordial tone. Further tests suggest that the differential in the likelihood of answering is due to animus towards blacks rather than inferring socioeconomic status from race.

Keywords: discrimination, public services provision, school districts, libraries, sheriffs, field experiment, correspondence study

JEL Classification: D730, H410, J150

Suggested Citation

Giulietti, Corrado and Tonin, Mirco and Vlassopoulos, Michael, Racial Discrimination in Local Public Services: A Field Experiment in the US (September 30, 2015). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5537. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2681054

Corrado Giulietti

Department of Economics ( email )

University Rd.
Southampton SO17 1BJ, Hampshire SO17 1LP
United Kingdom

Mirco Tonin (Contact Author)

Free University of Bozen-Bolzano ( email )

Sernesiplatz 1
Bozen-Bolzano, BZ 39100
Italy

IZA ( email )

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

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/photos/index_html?key=3339

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Michael Vlassopoulos

University of Southampton ( email )

University Rd.
Southampton SO17 1BJ, Hampshire SO17 1LP
United Kingdom

IZA -- Institute for the Study of Labor ( email )

Bonn

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