Racial Discrimination in Local Public Services: A Field Experiment in the US
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We examine whether racial discrimination exists in access to public services in the U.S.. We carry out an email correspondence study in which we pose simple queries to more than 19,000 local public service providers. We find that emails from putatively black senders are almost 4 percentage points less likely to receive an answer compared to emails signed with a white-sounding name. Moreover, responses to queries coming from black names are less likely to have a cordial tone. Further tests suggest that the differential in the likelihood of answering is due to animus towards blacks rather than inferring socioeconomic status from race. Finally, we show that attitudes towards the government among blacks are more negative in states with higher discrimination.