Technische Universität Wien
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Univ-Prof. Dr. Loukas Balafoutas

Keynote: Using experiments to evaluate affirmative action policies

Wednesday 3 September, 11:00 - 12:30

Gender differences in choosing to enter competitions are one source of unequal labor market outcomes concerning wages and promotions. Given that studying the effects of policy interventions to support women is difficult with field data due to measurement problems and potential lack of control, we evaluate in a set of controlled laboratory experiments four interventions: Quotas for a minimum representation of women among the winners of a competition, two variants of preferential treatment of female candidates, and repetition of the competition if no woman is among the winners. Compared to no intervention, all interventions are effective in encouraging women to enter competitions more often. Moreover, they do not lead to inefficiencies in the sense that performance is at least equally good, both during and after the competition. Based on these findings we conclude that policy interventions in the spirit of affirmative action can “kill two birds with one stone”.


Loukas Balafoutas was born in 1981 in Athens, Greece. He studied Banking and Financial Management before earning his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Edinburgh in 2008 and his habilitation from the University of Innsbruck in 2013. He has taught economics in Edinburgh, Athens and Innsbruck and worked as a visiting scholar at the University of Athens, Brown University, University of California at San Diego and Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. In addition to his academic career Prof. Balafoutas has worked for the OECD Development Centre, where he co-authored a book on the economies of the countries in the Black Sea and Central Asia region and in particular on labor market conditions and policies. During that time he was involved in policy discussions with many of the region’s countries.
Prof. Balafoutas is currently Professor of Experimental Economics at the Department of Public Finance, University of Innsbruck. His research focuses mainly on behavior in tournaments and labor markets, on the provision of public goods, on credence goods, and on social norms and social preferences. He uses mainly experimental methods in his research, both in the laboratory and in the field, often combined with concepts from game theory and insights from social sciences other than economics. He is the author or co-author of several publications in highly-ranked academic journals. His research has attracted considerable media attention from outlets mostly in the German-speaking world but also in Britain, Greece and Italy.