22 Aug 2023 Articles

Perceived Fairness and Consequences of Affirmative Action Policies

1 minute read


Economist Chi Trieu co-authored a paper for The Economic Journal, alongside Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch, Marco A. Schwarz and Jana Willrodt, examining the outcomes of affirmative action policies and their links to perceived fairness.

In this paper, the authors provide evidence from a laboratory experiment that implements several affirmative action policies in the form of quota rules in a tournament setting, and explicitly discuss the association of a broad set of outcomes of those policies with their fairness perception.


Debates about affirmative action often revolve around fairness. In a laboratory experiment, we study three quota rules in tournaments that favor individuals whose performance is low, either due to discrimination, low productivity, or choice of a short working time. Affirmative action favoring discriminated individuals is perceived as fairest, followed by that targeting individuals with a short working time, while favoring low-productivity individuals is not perceived as fairer than an absence of affirmative action. Higher fairness perceptions coincide with a higher willingness to compete and less retaliation against winners, underlining that fairness perceptions matter for the consequences of affirmative action.

Read the full paper

This paper was originally published for The Economic Journal here. The views expressed are those of the authors only and do not necessarily represent the views of Compass Lexecon, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, its employees, or clients.

Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch, Marco A. Schwarz, Chi Trieu, Jana Willrodt, Perceived Fairness and Consequences of Affirmative Action Policies, Economic Journal (August 2023),  https://doi.org/10.1093/ej/uead063

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