Statistical discrimination or prejudice? A large sample field experiment

Michael Ewens, Bryan Tomlin, Liang Choon Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


A model of racial discrimination provides testable implications for two features of statistical discriminators: differential treatment of signals by race and heterogeneous experience that shapes perception. We construct an experiment in the U.S. rental apartment market that distinguishes statistical discrimination from taste-based discrimination. Responses from over 14,000 rental inquiries with varying applicant quality show that landlords treat identical information from applicants with African American- and white-sounding names differently. This differential treatment varies by neighborhood racial composition and signal type in a manner consistent with statistical discrimination and in contrast to patterns predicted by a model of taste-based discrimination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119 - 134
Number of pages16
JournalReview of Economics and Statistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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