Aspiration Failure, Ethnic Composition, and Competitive Inclination: An Experimental Study

54 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2022 Last revised: 23 Oct 2022

See all articles by King King Li

King King Li

Shenzhen University WeBank Institute of Fintech; Shenzhen University - Shenzhen Audencia Business School

Peiyao Shen

ShanghaiTech University - School of Entrepreneurship and Management

Date Written: February 3, 2022

Abstract

How do differences in the competitive inclination of ethnic groups contribute to economic disparity and how does the ethnic composition of a group affect competitive inclinations of individuals from different ethnicities? This paper experimentally investigates how ethnic composition affects the competitive inclinations of those from the Han (ethnic majority) and Yi (ethnic minority). We test the aspiration failure hypothesis that the ethnic minority group has lower aspiration and hence being less competitively inclined. Another possibility is that the differences in stereotypes may contribute to the difference. We find that in homogeneous treatments, which consists of one ethnicity, there is no difference in competitive inclination. However, in mixed treatments where both ethnicities are present in the group, the Yi are less likely to enter tournament than the Han. The difference in aspiration for education attainment has the highest explanatory power for the entry-gap and Yi subjects are on average less likely to have high aspiration, supporting the aspiration failure hypothesis. Using data of subject's scores from national college entrance exam, we find that Yi subjects with low scores are less likely to have aspiration for prestigious universities than low score Han subjects. There is no significant difference in performance in the experimental task between high and low aspiration subjects. Difference in perceived stereotypes, income, parents' education, risk aversion, and performance cannot explain the entry-gap. Overall, our results suggest that aspiration failure of the ethnic minority is a major source of the entry gap.

Keywords: Competitive inclination, Ethnicity, Aspiration, Gender difference

JEL Classification: C91, C93, D91

Suggested Citation

Li, King King and Shen, Peiyao, Aspiration Failure, Ethnic Composition, and Competitive Inclination: An Experimental Study (February 3, 2022). ShanghaiTech SEM Working Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4127991 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4127991

King King Li (Contact Author)

Shenzhen University WeBank Institute of Fintech

Shenzhen University - Shenzhen Audencia Business School ( email )

Shenzhen
China

Peiyao Shen

ShanghaiTech University - School of Entrepreneurship and Management ( email )

100 Haike Rd
Pudong Xinqu, Shanghai
China

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