WP 125: Solidarity in a multicultural neighbourhood. Results of a field experiment


This paper investigates the effect of differences in sex, age, ethnicity and residency on the willingness of individuals to share money with others in a solidarity game. The solidarity game that was used in this study consists of groups of four players and has similarities with the well-known ‘dictator game’. The dictator role was either randomly assigned (random conditions) or earned by performing well on a quiz (performance conditions). In each group, two ‘dictators’ could distribute 20 credits (reflecting real money).
Contrary to most experimental games, this experiment was carried out both with university students in a laboratory at the University of Amsterdam and with ‘ordinary’ people who visited the Dapper market in a multicultural Amsterdam neighbourhood as subjects. This working paper reports on the latter case. Since the players were informed about the age, the sex, the cultural background and the number of years of residency in the Dapper area of their co-players, we can examine the effect of a difference between two players and of heterogeneity of the group. Thus we test the thesis of Robert Putnam (2007) that ethnic diversity of a group harms both out-group and in-group solidarity.
A difference in cultural background between two players appears to have a significantly negative impact on the gift they bestow each other. Natives discriminate against co-players with a Turkish, Moroccan or European background, but not against Surinamese co-players. Surinamese players and players with an ‘other’ cultural background also demonstrated a bias in favour of players of their own or each other’s group compared to natives, Turks, Moroccan and European players.
We also found an effect of the ethnic composition of groups on giving, but there is no straightforward relationship between ethnic diversity and the size of gifts. In general, gifts are largest in groups with either three natives or three non-natives, due to intra-ethnic favouritism within these groups. In case of an equal number of natives and non-natives within a group, however, there is little evidence for intra-ethnic favouritism or discrimination against the other ethnic group. Remarkably, we found a similar effect with respect to the diversity of residency within the group, i.e. the number of players who live in the Dapper neighbourhood.
Regarding age, both the age of the players and the age difference between the players matters. Up till the age of 50, the size of gifts rises with the age of the player, and gifts are the largest when the players differ about 18.5 years in age, irrespective of who is older and who is younger. Consequently, solidarity seems to be stimulated by a substantial but not too large age difference.
Finally, we also examine the relationship between media use and political party preferences on the one hand and gift giving on the other.

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De Beer, P.T. and Berg, M.C.



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Publishing date:
December 2012

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