Researchers studying discrimination and bias frequently conduct experiments that use racially distinctive names to signal race. The ability of these experiments to speak to racial discrimination depends on the excludability assumption that subjects’ responses to these names are driven by their reaction to the individual’s putative race and not some other factor. We use results from an audit study with a large number of aliases and data from detailed public records to empirically test the excludability assumption undergirding the use of racially distinctive names. The detailed public records allow us to measure the signals about socioeconomic status and political resources that each name used in the study possibly could send. We then reanalyze the audit study to see whether these signals predict legislators’ likelihood of responding. We find no evidence that politicians respond to this other information, thus providing empirical support for the excludability assumption.
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