Field Experiments on Discrimination
This article reviews the existing field experimentation literature on the prevalence of discrimination, the consequences of such discrimination, and possible approaches to undermine it. We highlight key gaps in the literature and ripe opportunities for future field work. Section 1 reviews the various experimental methods that have been employed to measure the prevalence of discrimination, most notably audit and correspondence studies; it also describes several other measurement tools commonly used in lab-based work that deserve greater consideration in field research. Section 2 provides an overview of the literature on the costs of being stereotyped or discriminated against, with a focus on self-expectancy effects and self-fulfilling prophecies; section 2 also discusses the thin field-based literature on the consequences of limited diversity in organizations and groups. The final section of the paper, Section 3, reviews the evidence for policies and interventions aimed at weakening discrimination, covering role model and intergroup contact effects, as well as socio-cognitive and technological de-biasing strategies.
Laura Stilwell and Jan Zilinsky provided excellent research assistance. We thank Abhijit Banerjee for comments. We are particularly grateful to Betsy Levy Paluck, our discussant, for her detailed and thoughtful review of an earlier draft. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.