Leading the Horse to Water? Investigating the Impact of Ride-hailing Services on Hate Crimes
Accepted at Production and Operations Management
33 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2022 Last revised: 1 Nov 2023
Date Written: October 31, 2023
Hate crimes, which stem from prejudiced attitudes, have a distributionally detrimental impact on societal stability. Although inter-group contacts are potentially an effective means for reducing prejudice and subsequently decreasing the number of hate crimes, scholars have recently recognized the possibility of negative contacts that might actually amplify prejudice. As a result, the question of whether intergroup contacts truly possess the ability to effectively decrease hate crime numbers remains inconclusive. In addition, prior contact research primarily relies on laboratory experiments because the establishment of intergroup contacts in a field setting is challenging. Examination of the effectiveness of intergroup contacts hence merits further investigation in a real-world setting. In this paper, we propose that ride-hailing services, which naturally connect individuals from different backgrounds, offer an avenue to facilitate intergroup contacts in practice, which could potentially reduce prejudice and the volume of hate crimes. Leveraging the staggered introduction of this technology into counties in the United States, we conducted a series of analyses to empirically evaluate the contact effects in the open field. Our analysis reveals a notable decrease in the number of hate crimes (particularly a 5.75% reduction in racial hate crimes) after the introduction of ride-hailing services. These findings remained consistent across various robustness tests. Additional moderation analysis suggests that the increased interaction between different groups, facilitated by ride-hailing services, is the most likely explanation for the observed decrease in hate crimes. We further conducted an extensive survey involving real ride-hailing drivers and passengers. The results from our survey provide direct evidence that ride-hailing services create natural and constructive environments where positive interactions and mutual understanding can develop among diverse groups of people. This, in turn, helps mitigate prejudice and hate crimes within society, as observed in our analysis. This study not only extends the existing body of literature on contact theory but also sheds light on how modern technologies can play a pivotal role in curtailing hate crime, yielding both theoretical and practical implications.
Keywords: Hate crime, ride-hailing service, contact theory, prejudice
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