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Sorting in Experiments with Application to Social Preferences

Author

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  • Edward P. Lazear
  • Ulrike Malmendier
  • Roberto A. Weber

Abstract

Individuals sort into and out of economic environments based on their preferences and in response to relative prices. We demonstrate the importance of such sorting for the measurement of social preferences, using two laboratory experiments. First, allowing subjects to avoid environments in which sharing is possible significantly reduces sharing. This reveals the existence of a type of individual who shares reluctantly, preferring to avoid the opportunity to share. Second, after subsidizing the sharing environment, the aggregate amount shared increases, but less is shared, on average, by those who enter. Thus, subsidies intended to induce more sharing have weak effects since they attract those who share the least. (JEL C91, D12, D64)

Suggested Citation

  • Edward P. Lazear & Ulrike Malmendier & Roberto A. Weber, 2012. "Sorting in Experiments with Application to Social Preferences," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 136-163, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:4:y:2012:i:1:p:136-63 Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.4.1.136
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-1458, December.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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