“Discrimination as a self-financing probe: evidence of French supermarkets”

Next Wednesday, April 29 at 2:00 PM, the NOVAFRICA Center welcomes William Parienté of the Catholic University of Louvain to present his work on distortions about the self-fulfilling prophecy of discrimination.

Dylan Glover, Amanda Pallais and William Parienté

Examining the performance of cashiers in a French grocery store chain, we find that discrimination is a self-fulfilling prophecy. In these stores, cashiers work with different managers on different days and their schedules are determined quasi-randomly. We find that minorities (workers of African and North African descent) perform more poorly when they work with managers biased against them (as determined by an implicit association test or IAT). When scheduled to work with biased managers, minorities are absent more often, spend less time at work, scan items more slowly, and take more time between customers. Minority workers do not appear to perform more poorly with biased managers because they dislike them or because biased managers assign them to more unpleasant tasks. Rather, it appears that biased managers spend less time monitoring minority workers and, as a result, minority workers exert less effort. Manager bias has consequences for the average performance of minority and non-minority workers: while overall these two groups perform equivalently, on days where the manager is unbiased, minorities perform substantially better. This can explain how statistical discrimination can persist even though minority and majority workers have the same average capabilities.

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