Shifting Punishment on Minorities: Experimental Evidence of Scapegoating

73 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2021

See all articles by Michal Bauer

Michal Bauer

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

Jana Cahlikova

Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance; Charles University in Prague - CERGE-EI (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute)

Julie Chytilová

Charles University in Prague - Department of Economics

Gérard Roland

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Tomas Zelinsky

Technical University of Kosice

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 22, 2021

Abstract

This paper provides experimental evidence showing that members of a majority group systematically shift punishment on innocent members of an ethnic minority. We develop a new incentivized task, the Punishing the Scapegoat Game, to measure how injustice affecting a member of one’s own group shapes punishment of an unrelated bystander (“a scapegoat”). We manipulate the ethnic identity of the scapegoats and study interactions between the majority group and the Roma minority in Slovakia. We find that when no harm is done, there is no evidence of discrimination against the ethnic minority. In contrast, when a member of one’s own group is harmed, the punishment ”passed” on innocent individuals more than doubles when they are from the minority, as compared to when they are from the dominant group. These results illuminate how individualized tensions can be transformed into a group conflict, dragging minorities into conflicts in a way that is completely unrelated to their behavior.

Keywords: punishment, minority groups, inter-group conflict, discrimination, scapegoating, lab-in-field experiments

JEL Classification: C93, D74, D91, J15

Suggested Citation

Bauer, Michal and Cahlikova, Jana and Chytilová, Julie and Roland, Gérard and Zelinsky, Tomas, Shifting Punishment on Minorities: Experimental Evidence of Scapegoating (July 22, 2021). Working Paper of the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance No. 2021-11, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3891611 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3891611

Michal Bauer

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

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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 )

P.O. Box 882
7 Politickych veznu
Prague 1, 111 21
Czech Republic

Jana Cahlikova (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance ( email )

Marstallplatz 1
Munich, 80539
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.janacahlikova.net

Charles University in Prague - CERGE-EI (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute) ( email )

P.O. Box 882
7 Politickych veznu
Prague 1, 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

Gérard Roland

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States
510-642-4321 (Phone)
510-642-6615 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Tomas Zelinsky

Technical University of Kosice ( email )

Letna 9
Kosice, 04001
Slovakia

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