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Are dictators averse to inequality?

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  • Korenok, Oleg
  • Millner, Edward L.
  • Razzolini, Laura

Abstract

We present the results of an experiment designed to identify more clearly the motivation underlying dictators’ behavior. In the typical dictator game, recipients are given no endowment. We give an endowment to the recipient as well as the dictator. This new dimension allows us to test directly for inequality aversion. Our results confirm that the inequality between dictator's and recipient's endowment is a key determinant of the dictator's giving. As we increase the recipient's endowment from 0 to an amount equal to the dictator's endowment, the mean amount passed drops from 30 percent to less than 12 percent of the dictator's endowment, and the proportion of dictators who pass positive amounts falls from 75 percent to 26 percent. Thus the majority of dictators exhibit behavior consistent with inequality averse preferences. On the other hand, only 24 percent of dictators split payoffs equally suggesting that maximin preferences are less important drivers of dictators’ giving.

Suggested Citation

  • Korenok, Oleg & Millner, Edward L. & Razzolini, Laura, 2012. "Are dictators averse to inequality?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 543-547.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:82:y:2012:i:2:p:543-547
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2012.03.009
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Subhasish M. Chowdhury & Joo Young Jeon, 2013. "Altruism, Anticipation, and Gender," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 13-06, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    2. Calabuig, Vicente & Fatas, Enrique & Olcina, Gonzalo & Rodriguez-Lara, Ismael, 2016. "Carry a big stick, or no stick at all," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 153-171.
    3. Chowdhury, Subhasish M. & Jeon, Joo Young, 2014. "Impure altruism or inequality aversion?: An experimental investigation based on income effects," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 143-150.
    4. Oleg Korenok & Edward Millner & Laura Razzolini, 2014. "Taking, giving, and impure altruism in dictator games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 17(3), pages 488-500, September.
    5. Korenok Oleg & Edward L. Millner & Laura Razzolini, 2017. "Taking Aversion," Working Papers 1702, VCU School of Business, Department of Economics.
    6. Antonio Filippin & Manuela Raimondi, 2016. "The Patron Game with Heterogeneous Endowments: A Case Against Inequality Aversion," De Economist, Springer, vol. 164(1), pages 69-81, March.
    7. Subhashish Modak Chowdhury & Joo Young Jeon, 2012. "Income effect and altruism," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 12-04, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    8. Rodriguez-lara, Ismael, 2015. "Equal distribution or equal payoffs? Reciprocity and inequality aversion in the investment game," MPRA Paper 63313, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Dictator game; Other-regarding preferences; Maximin; Altruism;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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