Chagai WeissUniversity of Wisconsin - Madison
How does minority representation in public institutions shape intergroup relations? To answer this question, I develop a theory of prejudice reduction through descriptive representation. I suggest that embedding minorities in public institutions can promote tolerance by providing majority group members with positive information regarding minorities. To test my theory, I implemented a survey experiment in Israel, further replicated in the U.S., during the first outburst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the experiment, treated respondents were informed about the share of minority (Arab/Muslim) workers in healthcare institutions. Results from Israel suggest that information about minority representation reduces prejudice and promotes preferences for political inclusion in a similar magnitude to about a one-unit leftward-shift on a seven-point ideology scale. Similar, albeit more moderate patterns emerge from the U.S. These findings emphasize how institutions and the people embedded within them can shape intergroup relations.
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