DP13113 The Dynamics of Discrimination: Theory and Evidence

Author(s): Aislinn Bohren, Alex Imas, Michael Rosenberg
Publication Date: August 2018
Keyword(s): discrimination
JEL(s):
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=13113

We model the dynamics of discrimination and show how its evolution can identify the underlying source. We test these theoretical predictions in a field experiment on a large online platform where users post content that is evaluated by other users on the platform. We assign posts to accounts that exogenously vary by gender and evaluation histories. With no prior evaluations, women face significant discrimination. However, following a sequence of positive evaluations, the direction of discrimination reverses: women's posts are favored over men's. Interpreting these results through the lens of our model, this dynamic reversal implies discrimination driven by biased beliefs.