When Castes Collide: Does Competition Mediate Contact?

52% of upper castes in India continue to practice “untouchability.” These group relations persist despite castes living in close proximity (albeit in segregated villages). Further integration may be a natural policy response, but little is known about whether this would work, and about how the type of cross-caste interaction might matter. This field experiment tests both the effects of integration, and whether effects are weakened (strengthened) by competitive (collaborative) incentives. I use cricket tournaments to integrate men from all castes, with men randomly assigned to teams (giving variation in cross-caste exposure). The teams are then randomly assigned to Individual vs. Team Pay (competitive vs. collaborative incentives). Mid-experiment results show that (a) incentives affect group cohesion, with players on Individual Pay teams wanting to interact less with team-mates; and (b) incentives affect post-tournament behavior, with Team Pay stimulating greater cross-caste trade and trust in others. These early results suggest promise that incentives can be used to mould social relations. This proposal would complete the experiment with a larger sample.

RFP Cycle:
Spring 2017
  • Matt Lowe