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Friedman, Harsanyi, Rawls, Boulding - Or Somebody Else? An Experimental Investigation of Distributive Justice

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  • Stefan Traub
  • Christian Seidl
  • Ulrich Schmidt
  • M. Vittoria Levati

Abstract

This paper investigates distributive justice using a fourfold experimental design: The ignorance and the risk scenarios are combined with the self-concern and the umpire modes. We study behavioral switches between self-concern and umpire mode and investigate the goodness of ten standards of behavior. In the ignorance scenario, subjects became, on average, less inequality-averse as umpires. A within-subjects analysis shows that about one half became less inequality-averse, one quarter became more inequality-averse and one quarter remained unchanged as umpires. In the risk scenario, subjects become on average more inequality-averse in their umpire roles. A within-subjects analysis shows that about half became more inequality-averse, one quarter became less inequality-averse, and one quarter remained unchanged as umpires. As to the standards of behavior, several prominent ones (leximin, leximax, Gini, Cobb-Douglas) were not supported, while expected utility, Boulding's hypothesis, the entropy social welfare function, and randomization preference enjoyed impressive acceptance. For the risk scenario, the tax standard of behavior joins the favorite standards of behavior.

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Paper provided by Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group in its series Papers on Strategic Interaction with number 2003-19.

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Length: 34 pages
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Handle: RePEc:esi:discus:2003-19

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Keywords: distributive justice; income distributions; veil of ignorance;

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  1. Peter A. Diamond, 1967. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparison of Utility: Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 765.
  2. Schokkaert, Erik & Capeau, Bart, 1991. "Interindividual Differences in Opinions about Distributive Justice," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 325-45.
  3. Epstein, Larry G & Segal, Uzi, 1992. "Quadratic Social Welfare Functions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 691-712, August.
  4. Frank A Cowell & Emmanuel Flachaire, 2002. "Sensitivity of Inequality Measures to Extreme Values," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 60, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  5. Steven R. Beckman & Buhong Zheng & John P. Formby & W. James Smith, 2002. "Envy, malice and Pareto efficiency: An experimental examination," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 349-367.
  6. Robert H. Strotz, 1961. "How Income Ought To Be Distributed: Paradox Regained," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 271.
  7. Frank A Cowell, 2006. "Inequality: Measurement," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 86, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  8. Gaertner, Wulf & Jungeilges, Jochen & Neck, Reinhard, 2001. "Cross-cultural equity evaluations: A questionnaire-experimental approach," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 953-963, May.
  9. Cowell, F A, 1985. "'A Fair Suck of the Sauce Bottle' or What Do You Mean by Inequality?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 61(173), pages 567-79, June.
  10. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1978. "Measures of relative equality and their meaning in terms of social welfare," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 59-80, June.
  11. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
  12. Norman Frohlich & Joe Oppenheimer, 1994. "Preferences for Income Distribution and Distributive Justice: A Window on the Problems of Using Experimental Data in Economics and Ethics," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 147-155, Spring.
  13. Konow, James, 2001. "Fair and square: the four sides of distributive justice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 137-164, October.
  14. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434.
  15. Kanbur, S M, 1979. "Of Risk Taking and the Personal Distribution of Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 769-97, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Liang, Che-Yuan, 2013. "Optimal Inequality behind the Veil of Ignorance," Working Paper Series 2013:7, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  2. Seidl, Christian & Camacho Cuena, Eva & Morone, Andrea, 2003. "Income Distributions versus Lotteries Happiness, Response-Mode Effects, and Preference," Economics Working Papers 2003,01, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
  3. James Konow, 2009. "Is fairness in the eye of the beholder? An impartial spectator analysis of justice," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 101-127, June.
  4. Yoram Amiel & Frank A Cowell & Wulf Gaertner, 2006. "To Be or not To Be Involved:A Questionnaire-Experimental View on Harsanyi’sUtilitarian Ethics," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 85, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  5. Tim Krieger & Stefan Traub, 2009. "Wie hat sich die intragenerationale Umverteilung in der staatlichen Säule des Rentensystems verändert? Ein internationaler Vergleich auf Basis von LIS-Daten," Working Papers CIE 24, University of Paderborn, CIE Center for International Economics.
  6. Tim Krieger & Stefan Traub, 2008. "Back to Bismarck? Shifting Preferences for Intragenerational Redistribution in OECD Pension Systems," Working Papers CIE 13, University of Paderborn, CIE Center for International Economics.
  7. repec:pdn:wpaper:13 is not listed on IDEAS

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