Contact Theory Revisited in Sharing Gig: An Empirical Investigation on Ride-Hailing Services and Hate Crime



BIM Job Seminar - Ride-hailing services have generated remarkable impacts on various aspects of society. Little, however, is known about its effects on hate crimes. We make use of the staggered time points that Uber services enter U.S. counties to create a Difference-in-Differences model, which is able to unveil the role that Uber-like sharing gigs play in the occurrence of hate crimes. Our estimation shows that ride sharing services can significantly reduce hate crimes in society, because ride sharing services connect users from different groups into one shared ride, which enables the cross-group conversations. Contact theory in psychology suggests that communications are the most effective way to decrease outgroup prejudice, which is the root for hate crimes. Ride sharing services, which offer opportunities for intergroup contacts, are thus helpful in reducing outgroup prejudice and decreasing hate crimes. Heterogeneous analyses provide further evidence for the contact-based mechanisms that drive such reduction impacts. We also conduct various robustness checks that consistently demonstrate the validity of ride sharing services in reducing hate crimes. This study has important theoretical and practical implications, in terms of both advancing the understanding of sharing gigs and guiding policy makers to combat hate crime. 



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