Job Market Paper
Do workers discriminate against their out-group employers? Evidence from the Gig Economy (with J. Bhattacharya and R. Banerjee)
We study possible worker-to-employer discrimination manifested via social preferences in an online labor market. Specifically, we ask, do workers exhibit positive social preferences for an out-race employer relative to an otherwise-identical, own-race one? We run a well-powered, model-based experiment wherein we recruit 6,000 workers from Amazon’s M-Turk platform for a real-effort task and randomly (and unobtrusively) reveal to them the racial identity of their non-fictitious employer. Somewhat surprisingly, we find strong evidence of race-based altruism – white workers, even when they do not benefit personally, work relatively “harder” to generate more income for black employers. Self-declared white Republicans and Independents exhibit significantly more altruism relative to Democrats. Notably, the altruism is not driven by race-specific beliefs about the income status of the employers. Our results suggest the possibility that pro-social behavior of whites toward blacks, atypical in traditional labor markets, may emerge in the gig economy where associative (dis)taste is naturally muted due to limited social contact.
Research in Progress
Distributive effects of nudges
Influenced by behavioral economics and the nudge revolution, I am working on a project which tests the effectiveness of public information nudge at a large scale in changing behaviors. Specifically, I look at the effectiveness of death count messages (“x traffic deaths this year”), displayed on major highways and interstates in some of the states in the United States, on the probability of automotive crashes and resulting fatalities. I look at the distributive effectiveness of this nudge by stratifying drivers by their demographics. The preliminary results show that such a nudge is effective at reducing overall number of crashes, and hence nudges at large scale may be an effective tool at the government’s disposal to change behavior.
Economic Consequences of Affective Polarization (with T. Ditonto, D. Andersen, J. Bhattacharya)
In this study, we explore the economic consequences of increased polarization in American society. We investigate questions such as; Is there evidence that economic agents discriminate against others based on the political identity of those they interact with? If so, does the discrimination reflect group bias in that each player favors players of his group (in-group bias), or is there systematic discrimination against a rival political group (out-group bias)? Is this discrimination based on animus (a taste for discrimination)? Or, is it the outcome of stereotyping (statistical discrimination)? Finally, whether the economic agents deem political identity as important as other social identities such as gender, age, race in economic interactions. We run a series of incentivized lab games with a representative sample of individuals from all over the United States to investigate the above questions.