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Examining the role of fairness in high stakes allocation decisions

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  • List, John A.
  • Cherry, Todd L.

Abstract

Recent experimental evidence has led to a debate about the nature of utility functions in which people are concerned about the amount others earn, and what factors heighten or diminish social preference. We explore fairness by examining behavior across three variants of the dictator game. Using data from nearly 200 dictators allocating as much as $100 each, we observe that fairness considerations are very powerful—when subjects could reasonably believe that disproportionately low offers are “fair”, only 8-12 percent of dictators make positive offers. Examining the comparative static results from these allocation decisions, we find that recent theoretical models of inequality do a respectable job of explaining the data patterns.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 65 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 1-8

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:65:y:2008:i:1:p:1-8

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  1. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  2. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
  3. Colin F. Camerer & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "Anomalies: Ultimatums, Dictators and Manners," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 209-219, Spring.
  4. Gary E Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 1997. "A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1889, David K. Levine.
  5. Nelson, William Jr., 2002. "Equity or intention: it is the thought that counts," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 423-430, August.
  6. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  7. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
  8. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
  9. 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.
  10. Bruno S. Frey & Iris Bohnet, 1999. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 335-339, March.
  11. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
  12. John List & Todd Cherry, 2000. "Learning to Accept in Ultimatum Games: Evidence from an Experimental Design that Generates Low Offers," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 11-29, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Abigail Barr & Justine Burns & Luis Miller & Ingrid Shaw, 2011. "Individual notions of distributive justice and relative economic status," SALDRU Working Papers 66, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  2. Michael Naef & Jürgen Schupp, 2009. "Measuring Trust: Experiments and Surveys in Contrast and Combination," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 167, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Franziska Tausch & Jan Potters & Arno Riedl, 2010. "Preferences for Redistribution and Pensions. What can we Learn from Experiments?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3156, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. John A. List, 2007. "On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 482-493.
  5. Steffen Andersen & Seda Ertac & Uri Gneezy & Moshe Hoffman & John A. List, 2011. "Stakes Matter in Ultimatum Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3427-39, December.
  6. Walkowitz, Gari & Lönnqvist, Jan-Erik & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2013. "Moral hypocrisy: Self-deception or impression management?," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79701, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  7. Franzen, Axel & Pointner, Sonja, 2012. "Anonymity in the dictator game revisited," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 74-81.
  8. Subhashish Modak Chowdhury & Joo Young Jeon, 2012. "Income effect and altruism," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 12-04, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  9. Brosnan, Sarah F., 2011. "An evolutionary perspective on morality," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 23-30, January.
  10. Riyanto, Yohanes Eko & Zhang, Jianlin, 2010. "An Egalitarian Regime Breeds Generosity: The Effect of Endowment Allocation Procedures on Social Preferences," MPRA Paper 21727, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Marion Eberlein & Judith Przemeck, 2006. "Solidarity and Performance Differences," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse5_2006, University of Bonn, Germany.

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