MPP Seminar | Can National Identity Trump Ethnic Favoritism? Experimental Evidence from Singapore by Guillem Riambau
School of Economics
Invites you to a
Microeconometrics & Public Policy seminar presented by
(Universitat de Barcelona)
(Institut d’Economia de Barcelona)
Can National Identity Trump Ethnic Favoritism?
Experimental Evidence from Singapore
Friday 13 October 2023
12.00pm – 1.00pm
Seminar Room 650
A02 Social Sciences Building
The University of Sydney NSW 2006
Prior works in ethnic politics and political economy have shown that in-group ethnic favoritism can lead to adverse political and social outcomes. In this paper, we conduct a field experiment in Singapore to leverage its unique demographic composition to measure how ethnicity and national identity affect altruism towards members of ethnic in/outgroups. We sent 3,150 misdirected letters to residents containing vouchers and letters cuing for intended recipients’ identity, and we tracked their returns as a measure of altruism. We find some evidence of ethnic favoritism in our data: Malays show in-group favoritism, whereas Chinese and Indians show outgroup favoritism. Furthermore, letter recipients are more likely to return misdirected letters when (i) they perceive that the intended recipient belongs to a lower socioeconomic class; and (ii) as their own education and household income increases. We discuss the plausible explanations for our findings and their implications on ethnic politics, social harmony, and nation-building.