Ethnic and Social Barriers to Cooperation: Experiments Studying the Extent and Nature of Discrimination in Urban Peru

Apr 2008
This paper presents a series of experiments on discrimination in urban Lima, Peru. The experiments exploit degrees of information on performance as a way to assess how personal characteristics affect how people sort into groups, and the results show that behavior is not correlated with personal socio-economic and racial characteristics. However, people do use personal characteristics to sort themselves into groups. Height is a robust predictor of being desirable, as is being a woman. Looking indigenous makes one less desirable, and looking "white" increases one's desirability. Interestingly, our experiments show that once information on performance is provided, almost all evidence of discrimination is eliminated. Although there is evidence of stereotyping or preference-based discrimination, clear information trumps discrimination.