Disabled by stereotype? Experimental evidence from Uganda
Kjetil Bjorvatn and Bertil Tungodden
Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, volume 118, pp. 268-280, 2015
More than one billion people in the world have some kind of disability. Apart from the obvious physical challenges facing disabled people, there may also be psychological barriers that make it difficult for them to integrate in society and prosper. These challenges may be particularly difficult in developing countries, where disabled individuals are often marginalized. The present paper presents experimental evidence on the effect of social identity on disabled secondary school students in urban and rural Uganda. In the rural setting, we find a negative effect of social identity on confidence, but, somewhat surprisingly, in the urban setting we find a positive effect on confidence. This evidence suggests that social identities are shaped by the local environment and are not necessarily in line with commonly held stereotypes, a finding that could have important implications for the design of policies aimed at improving the lives of the disabled. We find only limited evidence of social identity affecting performance or preferences.