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Spite and Development

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  • Ernst Fehr
  • Karla Hoff
  • Mayuresh Kshetramade

Abstract

In a wide variety of settings, spiteful preferences would constitute an obstacle to cooperation, trade, and thus economic development. This paper shows that spiteful preferences - the desire to reduce another's material payoff for the mere purpose of increasing one's relative payoff - are surprisingly widespread in experiments conducted in one of the least developed regions in India (Uttar Pradesh). In a one-shot trust game, the authors find that a large majority of subjects punish cooperative behavior although such punishment clearly increases inequality and decreases the payoffs of both subjects. In experiments to study coordination and to measure social preferences, the findings reveal empirical patterns suggesting that the willingness to reduce another's material payoff - either for the sake of achieving more equality or for the sake of being ahead - is stronger among individuals belonging to high castes than among those belonging to low castes. Because extreme social hierarchies are typically accompanied by a culture that stresses status-seeking, it is plausible that the observed social preference patterns are at least partly shaped by this culture. Thus, an exciting question for future research is the extent to which different institutions and cultures produce preferences that are conducive or detrimental to economic development.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): 98 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 494-99

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:98:y:2008:i:2:p:494-99

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.2.494
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References

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  1. Louis Putterman & Christopher M. Anderson, 2003. "Do Non-strategic Sanctions Obey the Law of Demand? The Demand for Punishment in the Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Working Papers 2003-15, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  2. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 1997. "Reciprocity as a contract enforcement device: experimental evidence," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5911, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  4. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2007. "The demand for punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 522-542, April.
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As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Spite and development
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2008-09-19 14:17:00
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Cited by:
  1. Gächter, Simon & Herrmann, Benedikt, 2011. "The limits of self-governance when cooperators get punished: Experimental evidence from urban and rural Russia," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 193-210, February.
  2. Mzoughi, Naoufel, 2011. "Farmers adoption of integrated crop protection and organic farming: Do moral and social concerns matter?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(8), pages 1536-1545, June.
  3. d'Adda, Giovanna, 2011. "Motivation crowding in environmental protection: Evidence from an artefactual field experiment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(11), pages 2083-2097, September.
  4. Karla Hoff & Mayuresh Kshetramade & Ernst Fehr, 2010. "Caste and punishment: the legacy of caste culture in norm enforcement," IEW - Working Papers 476, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  5. Elisabeth Gsottbauer & Jeroen den Bergh, 2013. "Bounded rationality and social interaction in negotiating a climate agreement," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 225-249, September.
  6. Hoff, Karla & Pandey, Priyanka, 2014. "Making up people—The effect of identity on performance in a modernizing society," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 118-131.
  7. Schosser, Stephan & Vogt, Bodo, 2011. "The public loss game: An experimental study of public bads," Working Paper Series in Economics 33, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Business Engineering.
  8. Andreas Leibbrandt & Raúl López-Pérez, 2014. "Different carrots and different sticks: do we reward and punish differently than we approve and disapprove?," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 76(1), pages 95-118, January.
  9. Vollan, Bjorn & Prediger, Sebastian & Frolich, Markus, 2010. "The influence of collective property rights on grazing management in a semi-arid region," African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, African Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 5(2), December.
  10. Kimbrough Erik O. & Reiss J. Philipp, 2012. "Measuring the Distribution of Spitefulness," Research Memorandum 040, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  11. Vollan, Björn, 2011. "The difference between kinship and friendship: (Field-) experimental evidence on trust and punishment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 14-25, February.
  12. Sebastian Prediger, 2011. "How does income inequality affect cooperation and punishment in public good settings?," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201138, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  13. Stoelhorst, J.W. & Richerson, Peter J., 2013. "A naturalistic theory of economic organization," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages S45-S56.

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