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Social Position and Distributive Justice: Experimental Evidence

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Author Info

  • Kurtis Swope

    ()
    (Department of Economics, U.S. Naval Academy, 589 McNair Road, Annapolis, MD 21402, USA)

  • John Cadigan

    (Department of Economics, Gettysburg College, 300 North Washington Street, Gettysburg, PA 17325, USA)

  • Pamela Schmitt

    ()
    (Department of Economics, U.S. Naval Academy, 589 McNair Road, Annapolis, MD 21402, USA)

  • Robert Shupp

    (Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University, 202 Agriculture Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA)

Abstract

Using a simple, double-blind dictator experiment, we examine the extent to which subjects' choices of distributive shares are influenced by unearned social position. We measure social position by the initial distributive shares (resources) and the subjects' ability to determine the final distributive shares (power). We find that subjects' decisions are consistent with Rawls' (1971) hypothesis that individuals expect a greater share when in a position with more power and initial resources. Finally, we test if subjects' choices under a laboratory veil of ignorance are consistent with Rawls' concept of distributive justice. “Veiled” individuals exhibit preferences that are less risk-averse and have greater variance than Rawls hypothesized.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Southern Economic Association in its journal Southern Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 74 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (January)
Pages: 811-818

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Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:74:3:y:2008:p:811-818

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Web page: http://www.southerneconomic.org/
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  1. Harrison, Glenn W & McCabe, Kevin A, 1996. "Expectations and Fairness in a Simple Bargaining Experiment," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 303-27.
  2. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1986. "Fairness and the Assumptions of Economics," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S285-300, October.
  3. Edi Karni & Tim Salmon & Barry Sopher, 2008. "Individual sense of fairness: an experimental study," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 174-189, June.
  4. 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.
  5. Cherry, Todd L., 2001. "Mental accounting and other-regarding behavior: Evidence from the lab," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 605-615, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Bolle, Friedel & Liepmann, Hannah & Vogel, Claudia, 2012. "How much social insurance do you want? An experimental study," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1170-1181.
  2. Krupka, Erin L. & Weber, Roberto A., 2008. "Identifying Social Norms Using Coordination Games: Why Does Dictator Game Sharing Vary?," IZA Discussion Papers 3860, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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