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Moving Beyond Measurement: Adapting Audit Studies to Test Bias-Reducing Interventions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 September 2017

Daniel M. Butler
Affiliation:
Associate Professor, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, #0521, La Jolla, CA 92093-0521, e-mail: daniel.butler@gmail.com
Charles Crabtree
Affiliation:
PhD Candidate, University of Michigan, 5700 Haven Hall, 505 S. State, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, e-mail: ccrabtr@umich.edu

Abstract

This paper discusses how audit studies can be adapted to test the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing discrimination. We conducted an adapted audit experiment to test whether making officials aware of bias could reduce levels of racial bias. While the limitations of our design make it difficult to assess where information alone can reduce bias, our study makes two important contributions. First, we replicate prior studies by showing that white, local elected officials are less responsive to black constituents. That local officials exhibit biased behavior is particularly worrisome, as local government is often the level that most directly affects citizens’ daily lives. Second, we provide several suggestions for future audit studies that draw from the strengths and weaknesses of our own design. We hope that they will help improve future work on identifying and reducing discrimination.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Experimental Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2017 

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Supplementary material: PDF

Butler and Crabtree supplementary material 1

Appendix

Download Butler and Crabtree supplementary material 1(PDF)
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