Was Pricing on a Toy Dollhouse Racially Motivated?

For a second there, the Internet was up in arms over a holiday gift.

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The good people over at Freakonomics have discovered something interesting. It seems that Amazon is selling a dollhouse, complete with a white doll family, for $50.74, plus shipping. While that may seem like a steal for a dollhouse, that’s not really the interesting part. What’s notable about the price tag is that it differs from that of what looks to be the exact same dollhouse, except with an accompanying African-American set of dolls. The African-American family version is selling for $37.99 and comes with free shipping.

So what gives? Your first instinct might be that Amazon is making some ill-advised sort of racial assumption on who’s buying their products. It’s an uncomfortable thought, but you wouldn’t be alone in thinking it — Freakonomics wondered if a racist bias was at play here, as well.

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But after taking a closer look, they discovered a few more important details. Namely, each dollhouse comes from a different seller. The dollhouse with the African-American dolls comes directly from Amazon; the dollhouse with the white dolls sold through Amazon by another company. If each retailer is setting the cost, then it’s hardly an issue of discrepancy due to race. It’s likely more of an issue of hiking up the prices of toys right before the holidays, which Amazon has refrained from doing.

And, for what it’s worth, the dollhouse manufacturer, Fisher Price, charges $40.00 for both types of dollhouses.

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