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Are Politicians Biased Against Ethnic Minority Candidates? Experimental Evidence from Norway

CEPDISC Seminar with Henning Finderaas

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Mandag 16. maj 2022,  kl. 14:00 - 15:30





Title:  Are Politicians Biased Against Ethnic Minority Candidates? Experimental Evidence from Norway 

Speaker: Associate Professor Henning Finderaas, Department of Sociology and Political Science, Norweigian University of Science and technology


To what extent is underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in politics due to ethnic bias? While this question has interested researchers for a long time, direct evidence of ethnic bias in party-controlled nomination processes is scarce. We conducted a preregistered survey experiment with 1,149 politicians in Norway, where parties control the nomination process, to examine bias against ethnic minority candidates. In the experiment, politicians evaluated candidate profiles with randomly assigned information about the candidates’ ethnic background. Contrary to our expectations, we find that across parties, ethnic minority candidates receive higher quality scores and better rankings than the ethnic Norwegian candidate. However, list experiments with voters show that a substantial share of right-wing voters has reservations against voting for a party list with many candidates with ethnic minority background. Thus, while the political elite wants ethnically diverse party lists, for some parties such lists might have an electoral cost.

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