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Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments

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  • Dirk Engelmann
  • Martin Strobel

Abstract

We present simple one-shot distribution experiments comparing the relative importance of efficiency concerns, maximin preferences, and inequality aversion, as well as the relative performance of the fairness theories by Gary E Bolton and Axel Ockenfels and by Ernst Fehr and Klaus M. Schmidt. While the Fehr-Schmidt theory performs better in a direct comparison, this appears to be due to being in line with maximin preferences. More importantly, we find that a combination of efficiency concerns, maximin preferences, and selfishness can rationalize most of the data while the Bolton-Ockenfels and Fehr-Schmidt theories are unable to explain important patterns.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 94 (2004)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 857-869

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:94:y:2004:i:4:p:857-869

Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828042002741
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  1. Blount, Sally, 1995. "When Social Outcomes Aren't Fair: The Effect of Causal Attributions on Preferences," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 131-144, August.
  2. Guth, Werner & Huck, Steffen & Muller, Wieland, 2001. "The Relevance of Equal Splits in Ultimatum Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 161-169, October.
  3. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  4. Kritikos, Alexander & Bolle, Friedel, 2001. "Distributional concerns: equity- or efficiency-oriented?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 333-338, December.
  5. Gary E Bolton & Rami Zuwick, 2010. "Anonymity versus punishments in ultimatum bargaining," Levine's Working Paper Archive 826, David K. Levine.
  6. Gary Bolton, 1998. "Bargaining and Dilemma Games: From Laboratory Data Towards Theoretical Synthesis," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 257-281, December.
  7. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  8. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
  9. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  10. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, . "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  11. Brit Grosskopf, 2000. "Relative Payoffs and Happiness: An Experimental Study," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1263, Econometric Society.
  12. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  13. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  14. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
  15. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2004. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 857-869, September.
  16. John Kagel & Katherine Wolfe, 2001. "Tests of Fairness Models Based on Equity Considerations in a Three-Person Ultimatum Game," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 203-219, December.
  17. Ballinger, T Parker & Wilcox, Nathaniel T, 1997. "Decisions, Error and Heterogeneity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(443), pages 1090-1105, July.
  18. James Andreoni, 2001. "Giving According to GARP," Theory workshop papers 339, UCLA Department of Economics.
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