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Promoting Justice by Treating People Unequally: An Experimental Study

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Author Info

  • Alice Becker

    ()
    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena, Germany)

  • Luis M. Miller

    ()
    (Centre for Experimental Social Sciences, Nuffield College, University of Oxford)

Abstract

Which inequalities among individuals are considered unjust? This paper reports the results of an experiment designed to study distributive choices dealing with arbitrarily unequal initial endowments. In a three-person distribution problem where subjects either know or do not know their endowments, we ï¬nd impartial behavior to be a stable pattern. Subjects either compensate for initial inequalities fully or not at all in both conditions, and they do so more often when they do not know their endowment than when they know it. Moreover, the type and the size of the good to be distributed also affect the frequency of impartial behavior.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2009-008.

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Date of creation: 30 Jan 2009
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Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2009-008

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Keywords: veil of ignorance; impartial behavior; distributive justice; procedural fairness;

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References

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  1. Edi Karni & Tim Salmon & Barry Sopher, 2008. "Individual sense of fairness: an experimental study," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 174-189, June.
  2. James Konow, 2003. "Which Is the Fairest One of All? A Positive Analysis of Justice Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1188-1239, December.
  3. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jurgen Schupp & Gert Wagner, 2005. "Individual risk attitudes: New evidence from a large, representative, experimentally-validated survey," Framed Field Experiments 00140, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. Todd L. Cherry & Peter Frykblom & Jason F. Shogren, 2002. "Hardnose the Dictator," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1218-1221, September.
  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. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Norman Frohlich & Joe Oppenheimer & Anja Kurki, 2004. "Modeling Other-Regarding Preferences and an Experimental Test," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 119(1_2), pages 91-117, 04.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Luis Miller & Paloma Ubeda, 2010. "Are Women More Sensitive to the Decision-Making Context?," Discussion Papers 2010004, University of Oxford, Nuffield College.
  2. repec:cge:warwcg:92 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Charlotte Klempt, 2012. "The Impact of Random Help on the Dynamics of Indirect Reciprocity," IAW Discussion Papers 88, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW).
  4. Alice Becker, 2013. "Accountability and the fairness bias: the effects of effort vs. luck," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 685-699, September.
  5. Grimalda, Gianluca & Kar, Anirban & Proto, Eugenio, 2012. "Everyone Wants a Chance : Initial Positions and Fairness in Ultimatum Games," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 989, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  6. Alice Becker, 2011. "Accountability and the fairness bias in the context of joint production: Effects of bonuses and opportunities," Jena Economic Research Papers 2011-004, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.

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