Job Market Paper
Do workers discriminate against their out-group employers? Evidence from a Gig Economy (with J. Bhattacharya and R. Banerjee)
Discrimination in labor markets is often thought of as being one-sided, driven mostly by employers towards their out-group employees. This paper studies possible discrimination from the opposite direction in a gig economy, i.e., we ask, do workers discriminate (say, by under providing effort) for an out-group employer relative to an otherwise-identical, own-group one? To test our hypothesis, we run a well-powered model-based experiment on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (M-Turk) using a piece rate design. We recruit 6,000 workers for a real-effort task and randomly assign the racial identity of their real (non-fictitious) employer. We find that workers do not discriminate in effort provisions against their out-group employers, in-fact they work “harder” for Black employers as compared to White employers. The results reflect the lack of prejudice in workers’ preferences against black employers. The results imply that as we transition to gig economy, the possibility of preference-based discriminatory behavior against disadvantaged group employers may disappear.
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.