Regardless of what one might think about the prospects for a "Post-Racial" society, one could plausibly assume that racial effects are less likely to emerge in an auction setting. Results from a clever study challenge that assumption, however. In Race Effects on Ebay, Ian Ayres (Yale), Mahzarin Banaji (Harvard--Psych), and Christine Jolls (Yale) leverage eBay, manipulate race, and assess racial effects on the price of baseball cards. The abstract follows.
"We investigate the impact of seller race in a field experiment involving baseball card auctions on eBay. Photographs showed the cards held by either a dark-skinned/African-American hand or a light-skinned/Caucasian hand. Cards held by African-American sellers sold for approximately 20% ($0.90) less than cards held by Caucasian sellers, and the race effect was more pronounced in sales of minority player cards. Our evidence of race differentials is important because the on-line environment is well controlled (with the absence of confounding tester effects) and because the results show that race effects can persist in a thick real-world market such as eBay."