NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Toward an Understanding of Why People Discriminate: Evidence from a Series of Natural Field Experiments

Uri Gneezy, John List, Michael K. Price

NBER Working Paper No. 17855
Issued in February 2012
NBER Program(s):   EEE   IO   LS

Social scientists have presented evidence that suggests discrimination is ubiquitous: women, nonwhites, and the elderly have been found to be the target of discriminatory behavior across several labor and product markets. Scholars have been less successful at pinpointing the underlying motives for such discriminatory patterns. We employ a series of field experiments across several market and agent types to examine the nature and extent of discrimination. Our exploration includes examining discrimination based on gender, age, sexual orientation, race, and disability. Using data from more than 3000 individual transactions, we find evidence of discrimination in each market. Interestingly, we find that when the discriminator believes the object of discrimination is controllable, any observed discrimination is motivated by animus. When the object of discrimination is not due to choice, the evidence suggests that statistical discrimination is the underlying reason for the disparate behavior.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17855

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Gabaix w17783 Boundedly Rational Dynamic Programming: Some Preliminary Results
Bertrand and Mullainathan w9873 Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination
Al-Ubaydli and List w17957 On the Generalizability of Experimental Results in Economics
Levitt, List, Neckermann, and Sadoff w18165 The Behavioralist Goes to School: Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Improve Educational Performance
Al-Ubaydli, Andersen, Gneezy, and List w18453 Carrots that Look Like Sticks: Toward an Understanding of Multitasking Incentive Schemes
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us