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Discrimination Against Doctors: A Field Experiment
November 21, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm ESTFree
Featuring speaker: Alex Chan, Stanford University
Discrimination against doctors is important but scantly studied. This field experiment observes that customers discriminate against Black and Asian doctors when they choose healthcare providers, and that this can be substantially reduced by supplying information on physician quality. Customer preferences were evaluated in the field with an online platform where cash-paying consumers can shop and book a provider for medical procedures based on a novel experimental paradigm. Actual paying customers evaluate doctor options they know to be hypothetical to be matched with a customized menu of real doctors, preserving incentives. Racial discrimination reduces patient willingness-to-pay for Black and Asian doctors by 12.7% and 8.7% of the average colonoscopy price respectively; customers are willing to travel 100-250 miles to see a white doctor instead of a Black doctor, and somewhere between 50-100 to 100-250 miles to see a white doctor instead of an Asian doctor. Providing signals of doctor quality reduces this willingness-to-pay racial gap by about 90%. Willingness-to-pay penalties on minority doctors are multiples of actual average racial quality differences and even the difference between doctors in highest and lowest quality levels. This field evidence shifts the focus beyond traditional taste-based and statistical discrimination to include behavioral mechanisms like biased beliefs and deniable prejudice. Discrimination against Black doctors are higher for non-college-graduate customers and residents in ZIP codes that voted for the 2020 presidential candidate on the political right. Actual booking behavior allows cross-validation of incentive compatibility of the stated preference elicitation.