The Dynamics of Discrimination: Theory and Evidence
Alex Oleg Imas
- American Economic Review (Forthcoming)
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 discrimina-
tion driven by biased beliefs.
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