Olsen, Asmus Leth, Jonas Høgh Kyhse‐Andersen, and Donald Moynihan. ‘The Unequal Distribution of Opportunity: A National Audit Study of Bureaucratic Discrimination in Primary School Access’. American Journal of Political Science, 2020.
Administrators can use their discretion to discriminate in the provision of public services via two mechanisms. They make decisions to allocate public services, allowing them to discriminate via allocative exclusion. They can also discriminate by targeting administrative burdens toward outgroups to make bureaucratic processes more onerous. While prior audit studies only examine the use of administrative burdens, we offer evidence of both mechanisms. We sent a request to all Danish primary schools (N = 1,698) from an ingroup (a typical Danish name) and outgroup (a Muslim name) father asking if it was possible to move his child to the school. While both groups received similar response rates, we find large differences in discrimination via allocative exclusion: Danes received a clear acceptance 25% of the time, compared to 15% for Muslims. Muslims also faced greater administrative burdens in the form of additional questions.