Market Competition and Discrimination

Abu Siddique, Michael Vlassopoulos, Yves Zenou

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This paper studies the effect of competition on ethnic discrimination by carrying out a field experiment in the context of the rice market in Bangladesh. We recruit professional rice buyers (middlemen) to act as judges in a rice competition by providing a quality rating and a price quote for rice samples that we randomly associate with farmers bearing ethnic majority or minority names. First, we find that there is no ethnic difference in buyers’ evaluation of rice quality. Second, we find that local buyers, who have local monopsony power, discriminate against ethnic minority farmers by quoting a lower price for their rice relative to that of ethnic majority farmers. Third, we find that wholesale buyers, who face fierce competition in the marketplace, do not price discriminate against ethnic minority farmers. A second lab-in-the-field experiment and survey information indicate that both local and wholesale buyers are prejudiced against ethnic minority farmers. This suggests that market competition can eliminate the discrimination of wholesale buyers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104361
JournalEuropean Economic Review
Early online date2 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

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