Exploring disparate impact in online retailing
This project studies discrimination in online retail grocery stores. Do different consumers get charged a different price based on their perceived race? To answer this question, the author will implement a massive data collection exercise using web scraping. The data will combine firm-level data on products and prices with geography and aggregate socioeconomic indicators. This provides information on the underlying consumers in those areas. In the first phase of the project, the shopper’s race is based solely on geography. Future phases of the project will attempt to use browsing history to find racial differences in the shoppers. Web crawlers will be used to collect prices based on location to understand how online prices faced by consumers vary across socioeconomic and racial groups (imputed based on location). This research will identify whether online shopping allows retailers to price discriminate in ways that are harder to do in person.