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Helping the meaner, hurting the nicer: The contribution versus distribution game

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  • Staffiero, Gianandrea

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    (IESE Business School)

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    Abstract

    Wide experimental evidence shows that people do care about their opponents' payoff during social interaction. Our research aims to shed light on the relative importance of different motives in non-selfish choices highlighted in the recent literature. After a standard public-good game, one player is given the possibility to increase or decrease his opponent's payoff. While our baseline treatment replicates the tendency to hurt richer but lower-contributing players and help poorer but higher-contributing players, if we add exogenous assignments we find substantial willingness to hurt the rich, even if they have contributed more, and to help the poor, even if they have contributed less. These results show a greater focus on correcting inequality than on punishing or rewarding particular behavior. Moreover, we also find that subjects disregard efficiency, in terms of the overall "pie" to be shared. Overall, our data support inequality aversion as a more robust phenomenon than reciprocity and efficiency considerations.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by IESE Business School in its series IESE Research Papers with number D/652.

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    Length: 32 pages
    Date of creation: 24 Sep 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ebg:iesewp:d-0652

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    Postal: IESE Business School, Av Pearson 21, 08034 Barcelona, SPAIN
    Web page: http://www.iese.edu/
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    Related research

    Keywords: Fairness; Cooperation; Inequality; Reciprocity;

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 1999. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 183, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Güth, Werner & Kliemt, Hartmut & Ockenfels, Axel, 2000. "Fairness versus efficiency: An experimental study of (mutual) gift giving," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2001,6, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
    3. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    7. Georg Kirchsteiger & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5899, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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    11. Abbink, Klaus & Bernd Irlenbusch & Elke Renner, 1997. "The Moonlighting Game - An Experimental Study on Reciprocity and Retribution," Discussion Paper Serie B 415, University of Bonn, Germany.
    12. Martin Sefton & Robert Shupp & James M. Walker, 2007. "The Effect Of Rewards And Sanctions In Provision Of Public Goods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(4), pages 671-690, October.
    13. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
    14. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
    15. Kritikos, Alexander & Bolle, Friedel, 2001. "Distributional concerns: equity- or efficiency-oriented?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 333-338, December.
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