Research Papers in Economics, Department of Economics, Stockholm University
Emma von Essen
A matter of transient anonymity: Discrimination by gender and foreignness in online auctions
() and Jonas Karlsson Karlsson
Abstract: This study shows that transient anonymity affects buyer
discrimination based on seller’s gender and foreignness in online auctions.
Sellers’ names are categorized by gender and foreignness. Half of the
sellers’ disclose their names in the usernames and the other half employ
anonymous usernames, concealing gender and foreignness. After the price is
set and the auction ends, the seller’s name is always disclosed to the
buyer by eBay. We explore buyers’ discrimination in willingness to pay,
measured as price. Furthermore, we study how buyers’ discrimination in
providing feedback is affected by sellers having an anonymous username or
not (measured after seller name is known to the buyer). Our results
indicate only some evidence of buyer discrimination in willingness to pay.
However, interestingly we find that anonymity matters for discrimination;
among sellers employing anonymous usernames male sellers with
foreign-sounding names receive fewer pieces of feedback than non-foreign
female sellers. This is not found among groups of sellers whose names were
revealed in the usernames. This discrimination is only present among female
and not among male buyers.
Keywords: transient anonymity; discrimination; gender; foreignness; online auctions; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: C93; D12; J15; J16; (follow links to similar papers)
36 pages, February 22, 2013
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