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Responsibility for what? Fairness and individual responsibility

  • Cappelen, Alexander W.
  • Sørensen, Erik Ø.
  • Tungodden, Bertil

What should individuals be held responsible for? This is a fundamental question in much of the contemporary debate on distributive justice. Different fairness ideals, such as strict egalitarianism, and different versions of equal opportunity ethics and libertarianism give different answers to this question. In order to study the prevalence of these fairness ideals in society, we present the results from a dictator game where the distribution phase is preceded by a production phase. Each participant's contribution is a result of working time, productivity and price. We estimate what factors the participants hold each other responsible for and the weight they attach to fairness. In addition, we discuss how fairness preferences relate to business education and labour market experiences by comparing the estimates for business students at different stages of their education, and by comparing the estimates for final-year business students with the estimates for former business students with some years of work experience.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 54 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (April)
Pages: 429-441

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:54:y:2010:i:3:p:429-441
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