Opportunity is Not Everything: How Belief Systems and Mistrust Shape Responses to Economic Incentives
28 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2005
We experimentally investigate in village India how belief systems that hierarchize social groups affect the groups' responses to economic opportunities. Earlier we found that making caste salient hurt low caste performance both absolutely and relative to the high caste's. To examine the possible role of mistrust, we manipulate the scope for discretion in rewarding performance. When offered a gamble in which success mechanically triggers rewards, making caste salient has no significant effect. Instead, it is in the case with scope for discretion that making caste salient creates a large caste gap in the proportion of subjects who refuse the gamble.
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