The relation of merit and identity on the take-up of opportunities: A field experiment
with Manu Munoz Herrera
Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)
Maison des Sciences Humaines
11, Porte des Sciences
L-4366 Esch-sur-Alzette / Belval
LISER Conference room 1st floor
11:00 am
12:15 pm
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This paper studies how take-up rates for a beneficial opportunity change when individuals from different groups are informed they are offered a slot because of their group identity. I conduct a field experiment by inviting 2560 high-performing university students to participate in a program developing personal and professional skills to better attain their goals. Selection is based on two criteria: merit (high GPA) and belonging to at least one potentially marginalized group. All targeted individuals know they are selected because of their merit, but only a random sample knows they are also chosen because of their identity. Results show that the relation of merit and identity impact social groups differently depending on gender and social class: females respond negatively and decrease take-up, middle class students are unaffected, and low-income students respond positively by increasing take-up. The beliefs people hold about the ability members of a social group have to attain their goals is a potential mechanism explaining this behavior, so that positive stereotypes associated with a group’s ability can trigger negative responses to beneficial opportunities. The results have implications for policies targeting the promotion of diversity and inclusion.

More about the 3E DTU

The Doctoral Training Unit (DTU) 3E - Experiments, Ethics and Economics - consists of an interdisciplinary consortium of 9 social scientists who use scientific experiments involving human subjects in their research. The objective of the consortium is to create a formal link for collaboration across the three existing social science research laboratories in Luxembourg, with the aim to push forward the state-of-the-art of what we know about human behavior in economic interactions. The DTU 3E gathers members across 5 Luxembourgish research units:

(1) Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research LISER
(2) Institute for Health and Behavior IHB (Faculty of Humanities FLSHASE, University of Luxembourg UL)
(3) Institute of Cognitive Science and Assessment COSA (FLSHASE, UL)
(4) Luxembourg School of Finance LSF (Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance FDEF, UL)
(5) Luxembourg Centre of Logistics LCL (Economics Research Centre CREA, FDEF, UL)

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