Breaking down the Stereotypes: Experimental Approach to Discrimination on the basis of Nationality and Accent

Qatar has made tremendous strides over the past two decades in terms of establishing itself as a hub for business, tourism, education and cultural events. This has been closely tied to the high inflow of expatriates from all around the world, particularly the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and these individuals continue to play a central role in the socioeconomic dynamics of Qatar. The diversity hosted by Qatar has been a major asset, as it allows a variety of skills and ideas to converge in one place, as charted by the Qatar National Vision 2030. However, diversity does not always have a positive impact on economic development. The tremendous diversity present in Qatar makes it highly susceptible to serious discrimination issues, thus it is necessary to study discrimination in the country. This is important because social cohesion is fundamental for stability and progress in Qatar, given the high proportion of expatriates. In order to counter discrimination, if it does exist, the type of discrimination must first be identified. Subsequently, an appropriate policy can be devised that targets the specific type of discrimination. Economists put discrimination into two categories: statistical and taste-based due to different policy implications. Recent economics studies documented the existence of discrimination across many diverse societies and attempted to empirically differentiate the type. Our research will extend the current literature to the MENA region by using an easily observed proxy for nationality that is also commonly used in everyday life: accents. Accents form a strong part of Arab identity since the region has a rich linguistic background, and accents differ from nation to nation and sometimes even within the same nation. Furthermore, by studying the decisions made in the Investment Game, we will be able to quantify the extent of discrimination as well as to deduce whether certain groups are more likely to discriminate. Identifying the difference of the two types of discrimination within the same experiment, we will also contribute to the current academic literature in discrimination. Revealing this information, along with the nature of the discrimination, and the kind of information that mitigates for the discrimination has important implications for anti-discriminatory policies in Qatar, but also provides necessary information about its type and ways to prevent it from impeding social and economic development.

UREP cycle: 21

Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. Mongoljin Batsaikhan, Dr. Sulagna Mookerjee

Student(s): Mohammad Taimur Ahmad, Yara AlKahala, Yara Abdelmaged,  Awatif Al Habsi


Present the work at Foundations of Utility and Risk Conference.

Present the research results at International Research Meeting in Business and Management (IRMBAM-2018)

Funding: $19,924


The Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP)