Revealing Stereotypes: Evidence from Immigrants in Schools

Number: 126
Year: 2018
Author(s): Alberto Alesina, Michela Carlana, Eliana La Ferrara, Paolo Pinotti
If individuals become aware of their stereotypes, do they change their behavior? We study this question in the context of teachers’ bias in grading immigrants and native children in middle schools. Teachers give lower grades to immigrant students compared to natives who have the same performance on standardized, blindly-graded tests. We then relate differences in grading to teachers’ stereotypes, elicited through an Implicit Association Test (IAT). We find that math teachers with stronger stereotypes give lower grades to immigrants compared to natives with the same performance. Literature teachers do not differentially grade immigrants based on their own stereotypes. Finally, we share teachers’ own IAT score with them, randomizing the timing of disclosure around the date on which they assign term grades. All teachers informed of their stereotypes before term grading increase grades assigned to immigrants. Revealing stereotypes may be a powerful intervention to decrease discrimination, but it may also induce a reaction from individuals who were not acting in a biased way.

Alberto Alesina Department of Economics, Harvard University, IGIER Bocconi, NBER and CEPR

Michela Carlana Harvard Kennedy School and IZA

Eliana La Ferrara Department of Economics, IGIER and LEAP, Bocconi University

Paolo Pinotti Department of Social and Political Sciences at Bocconi University, DONDENA, and Fondazione Rodolfo Debenedetti

Language: English

The paper may be downloaded here.

Keywords: immigrants,teachers,implicit stereotypes,IAT,bias in grading