A rich literature shows that ethnic discrimination is an omnipresent and highly persistent phenomenon. Little is known, however, about how to reduce discrimination. This study reports the results of a large-scale field experiment we ran together with the Norwegian Football Federation. The federation sent an email to a random selection of about 500 amateur soccer coaches, pointing towards the important role that soccer can play in promoting inclusivity and reducing racism in society and calling on the coaches to be open to all interested applicants. Two weeks later, we sent fictitious applications to join an amateur club, using either a native-sounding or a foreign-sounding name, to the same coaches and to a random selection of about 500 coaches who form the control group. In line with earlier research, we find that applications from people with a native-sounding name receive significantly more positive responses than applications from people with a foreign-sounding name. Surprisingly and unintentionally, the email from the federation substantially increased rather than decreased this gap. Our study underlines the importance of running field experiments to check whether well-intended initiatives are effective in reducing discrimination.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was approved by the Human Subjects Committee of the Faculty of Economics, Business Administration, and Information Technology of the University of Zurich (OEC IRB # 2021-031) and pre-registered at the AEA RCT Registry (AEARCTR-0008049; https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8049-1.0). We are grateful to two reviewers of this journal, Anne Boring, Francesco Capozza, Josse Delfgaauw, Donald Green, Sacha Kapoor, and Arnfinn Midtbøen for helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. We are also thankful for the support of the Norwegian Football Federation and, especially, the help of Henrik Lunde.
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.