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Shifting Punishment on Minorities: Experimental Evidence of Scapegoating

Michal Bauer (), Jana Cahlíková (), Julie Chytilová () and Gerald Roland ()
Additional contact information
Jana Cahlíková: Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance
Julie Chytilová: Charles University, Prague
Gerald Roland: University of California, Berkeley

Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Tomáš Želinský

No 14608, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: This paper provides experimental evidence showing that members of a majority group systematically shift punishment on innocent members of an ethnic minority. We develop a new incentivized task, the Punishing the Scapegoat Game, to measure how injustice affecting a member of one's own group shapes punishment of an unrelated bystander ("a scapegoat"). We manipulate the ethnic identity of the scapegoats and study interactions between the majority group and the Roma minority in Slovakia. We find that when no harm is done, there is no evidence of discrimination against the ethnic minority. In contrast, when a member of one's own group is harmed, the punishment "passed" on innocent individuals more than doubles when they are from the minority, as compared to when they are from the dominant group. These results illuminate how individualized tensions can be transformed into a group conflict, dragging minorities into conflicts in a way that is completely unrelated to their behavior.

Keywords: punishment; minority groups; inter-group conflict; discrimination; scapegoating; lab-in-field experiments (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C93 D74 D91 J15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 57 pages
Date: 2021-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-cdm, nep-exp, nep-isf, nep-law and nep-soc
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2)

Published - published in: Economic Journal, 2023, 133 (652), 1626–1640

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https://docs.iza.org/dp14608.pdf (application/pdf)

Related works:
Journal Article: Shifting Punishment onto Minorities: Experimental Evidence of Scapegoating (2023) Downloads
Working Paper: Shifting Punishment on Minorities: Experimental Evidence of Scapegoating (2021) Downloads
Working Paper: Shifting Punishment on Minorities: Experimental Evidence of Scapegoating (2021) Downloads
Working Paper: Shifting Punishment on Minorities: Experimental Evidence of Scapegoating (2021) Downloads
Working Paper: Shifting Punishment on Minorities: Experimental Evidence of Scapegoating (2021) Downloads
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