The Dynamics of Discrimination: Theory and Evidence

76 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2018 Last revised: 23 Aug 2018

See all articles by J. Aislinn Bohren

J. Aislinn Bohren

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business; University of Pennsylvania; Centre for Economic Policy Research

Alex Imas

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Michael Rosenberg

Wayfair, Inc.

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2018

Abstract

We model the dynamics of discrimination and show how its evolution can identify the underlying source. We test these theoretical predictions in a field experiment on a large online platform where users post content that is evaluated by other users on the platform. We assign posts to accounts that exogenously vary by gender and evaluation histories. With no prior evaluations, women face significant discrimination. However, following a sequence of positive evaluations, the direction of discrimination reverses: women's posts are favored over men's. Interpreting these results through the lens of our model, this dynamic reversal implies discrimination driven by biased beliefs.

Keywords: Discrimination, Dynamic Behavior, Field Experiment

JEL Classification: J16, D83, D9

Suggested Citation

Bohren, J. Aislinn and Imas, Alex and Rosenberg, Michael, The Dynamics of Discrimination: Theory and Evidence (July 2018). PIER Working Paper No. 18-016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3235376 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3235376

J. Aislinn Bohren (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

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

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

133 South 36th Street
The Ronald O. Perelman Center
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Alex Imas

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Michael Rosenberg

Wayfair, Inc. ( email )

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