The ¬†Roving Bandit¬†tipped me off about¬†a (preliminary, so results may change) paper¬†by¬†Jacobus Cilliers, Oeindrila Dube and Bilal Siddiqi which finds that replacing a passive Sierra Leonean supervisor with a white foreigner causes experimental subjects to act more generous in dictator games:
Can the presence of white foreigners in¬áuence measured behavior in developing countries? We experimentally vary foreigner presence across behavioral games conducted in 60¬†communities in Sierra Leone, and assess its impact on standard measures of generosity. We fi¬Önd that foreigner presence substantially increases player contributions in dictator games,¬†by as much as 23 percent.
This is the first time I’ve seen an explanatory variable labeled “white-man.” It suddenly makes me wonder about every single interview I’ve ever sat in on.
Jacobus sits behind me in the economics department at Oxford – I can’t say for sure if his being there has made me a more giving person or not.