Bus Drivers Likely to Let White Riders Ride for Free: Study

Bus Drivers Likely to Let White Riders Ride for Free: Study

In yet another strong evidence of racial bias in our society, a new paper in The Economic Journal has found that bus drivers are more likely to let white riders ride for free and less likely to let Black riders ride without paying the fee.

Based on 1,552 transactions in Queensland, Australia, the authors uncovered that bus drivers were twice as willing to let white testers ride free as Black testers (72 per cent versus 36 per cent of the time).

Indian testers were accepted at 51 per cent, while Asian testers were treated similarly to whites, being offered a free ride 73 per cent of the time.

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Such racial bias against Black citizens still existed after controlling for several other variables including the bus driver's age, gender, and race.

The level of white privilege found is markedly greater than previously documented in other markets and public services. Unsplash

Based on the data, researchers found no evidence of own-group bias: bus drivers were just as likely to grant free rides to customers from other races as they were to customers of their own race.

The study tested for discretionary favours (private accommodations) in everyday consumer transactions.

"Our findings show that white privilege extends into marketplace favours, or private accommodations, that are often hidden and unregulated," said Redzo Mujcic, one of the paper's authors.

A key feature in the field experiment was that the bus drivers had only a few seconds to decide regarding a person standing in front of them. Unsplash

The level of white privilege found is markedly greater than previously documented in other markets and public services, such as employment and housing, where discrimination is already illegal.

"As a society, we need to think about ways to eliminate such bias in daily interactions, especially given the large economic and social costs that accrue to discriminated minorities. For example, white citizens can simply refuse any such gifts in future transactions," Mujcic said.

A key feature in the field experiment was that the bus drivers had only a few seconds to decide regarding a person standing in front of them.

Here, the bus drivers appeared to use a customer's skin colour as a proxy for other unobservable group characteristics.

"The uncovered white privilege was reduced but still present when test customers wore business attire or dressed in army uniforms," the authors said. (IANS)

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