IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Redistribution and market efficiency: An experimental study

  • Großer, Jens
  • Reuben, Ernesto

We study the interaction between competitive markets and income redistribution that reallocates unequal pre-tax market incomes away from the rich to the poor majority. In one setup, participants earn their income by trading in a double auction (DA) with exogenous zero or full redistribution. In another setup, after trading, they vote on redistributive tax policies in a majoritarian election with two competing candidates. This results in virtually full redistribution, even when participants have the opportunity to influence taxes by transferring money to the candidates. We find that the high redistribution reduces trading efficiency, but not as much as predicted if market participants trade randomly. This is because, rather than capitulating to the much lower trading incentives, many participants respond to redistribution by asking and bidding more conservatively in the DA, and in this way help to prevent further efficiency losses.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 101 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 39-52

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:101:y:2013:i:c:p:39-52
DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2013.02.002
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, . "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Richard Mckelvey & Thomas Palfrey, 1998. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Extensive Form Games," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 9-41, June.
  3. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  4. Edgar K. Browning, 2002. "The Case Against Income Redistribution," Public Finance Review, SAGE Publishing, vol. 30(6), pages 509-530, November.
  5. Martin Dufwenberg & Paul Heidues & Georg Kirchsteiger & Frank Riedel & Joel Sobel, 2008. "Other-Regarding Preferences in General Equilibrium," Working Papers ECARES 2008-011, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  6. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  7. Balafoutas, Loukas & Kocher, Martin G. & Putterman, Louis & Sutter, Matthias, 2010. "Equality, Equity and Incentives: An Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 5204, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Alberto F. Alesina & Paola Giuliano, 2009. "Preferences for Redistribution," NBER Working Papers 14825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. McKelvey Richard D. & Palfrey Thomas R., 1995. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 6-38, July.
  11. AfDB AfDB, . "AfDB Group Annual Report 2006," Annual Report, African Development Bank, number 62 edited by Koua Louis Kouakou, 9.
  12. Jacob K Goeree & Charles A Holt, 2004. "Ten Little Treasures of Game Theory and Ten Intuitive Contradictions," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000900, David K. Levine.
  13. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," General Economics and Teaching 0303002, EconWPA.
  14. Rupert Sausgruber & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2010. "Are We Taxing Ourselves? How Deliberation and Experience Shape Voting on Taxes," Vienna Economics Papers 1010, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
  15. Campante, Filipe R., 2011. "Redistribution in a model of voting and campaign contributions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 646-656.
  16. B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1986. "Menu Auctions, Resource Allocation, and Economic Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-31.
  17. Adam Przeworski & Jess Benhabib, 2004. "The Political Economy of Redistribution under Democracy," 2004 Meeting Papers 58, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  18. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
  19. Ruben Durante & Louis Putterman, 2007. "Preferences For Redistribution and Perception of Fairness: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 2007-13, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  20. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
  21. Alesina, Alberto F & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2002. "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," CEPR Discussion Papers 3155, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  22. Jean Tirole & Roland Benabou, 2004. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," 2004 Meeting Papers 15, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  23. Karabarbounis, Loukas, 2010. "One dollar, one vote," MPRA Paper 25274, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  24. Daniel Friedman, 1982. "Price Formation in Double Auction Markets," UCLA Economics Working Papers 278, UCLA Department of Economics.
  25. Dufwenberg, M. & Kirchsteiger, G., 1998. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Discussion Paper 1998-37, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  26. Rupert Sausgruber & Jean-Robert Tyran, . "Testing the Mill hypothesis of fiscal illusion," Discussion Papers 04-18, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Sep 2004.
  27. Tyran, Jean-Robert & Sausgruber, Rupert, 2006. "A little fairness may induce a lot of redistribution in democracy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 469-485, February.
  28. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
  29. Dixit, Avinash & Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1997. "Common Agency and Coordination: General Theory and Application to Government Policy Making," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 752-69, August.
  30. Potters, Jan & van Winden, Frans, 2000. "Professionals and students in a lobbying experiment: Professional rules of conduct and subject surrogacy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 499-522, December.
  31. Camerer, Colin F. & Hogarth, Robin M., 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Working Papers 1059, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  32. Timothy Cason & Lata Gangadharan & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2009. "Can Real?Effort Investments Inhibit the Convergence of Experimental Markets?," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1089, The University of Melbourne.
  33. Romer, Thomas, 1975. "Individual welfare, majority voting, and the properties of a linear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 163-185, February.
  34. Jacob K. Goeree & Jingjing Zhang, 2012. "Inefficient markets," ECON - Working Papers 072, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  35. Bénabou, Roland & Ok, Efe, 1997. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution : the POUM Hypothesis," IDEI Working Papers 78, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised 1999.
  36. Glaeser, Edward & Scheinkman, Jose & Shleifer, Andrei, 2003. "The injustice of inequality," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 199-222, January.
  37. Gjerstad, S. & Dickhaut, J., 1995. "Price Formation in Double Auctions," Papers 284, Minnesota - Center for Economic Research.
  38. World Bank, 2007. "The World Bank Annual Report 2007," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7534.
  39. Vernon L. Smith, 1962. "An Experimental Study of Competitive Market Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 111.
  40. Ben Greiner, 2004. "The Online Recruitment System ORSEE - A Guide for the Organization of Experiments in Economics," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2003-10, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
  41. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Communication and Free-Riding Behavior: The Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 585-608, October.
  42. Milanovic, Branko & Lindert, Peter & Williamson, Jeffrey, 2007. "Measuring Ancient Inequality," MPRA Paper 5388, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  43. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
  44. Fong, Christina, 2001. "Social preferences, self-interest, and the demand for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 225-246, November.
  45. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
  46. Ben Greiner, 2004. "The Online Recruitment System ORSEE 2.0 - A Guide for the Organization of Experiments in Economics," Working Paper Series in Economics 10, University of Cologne, Department of Economics.
  47. Ruffle, Bradley J., 2005. "Tax and subsidy incidence equivalence theories: experimental evidence from competitive markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(8), pages 1519-1542, August.
  48. Epple, Dennis & Romer, Thomas, 1991. "Mobility and Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 828-58, August.
  49. Benhabib, Jess & Rustichini, Aldo, 1996. "Social Conflict and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 125-42, March.
  50. Jens Großer & Arthur Schram, 2007. "Public Opinion Polls, Voter Turnout, and Welfare: An Experimental Study," Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena 014, University of Siena.
  51. Friedman, Daniel, 1991. "A simple testable model of double auction markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 47-70, January.
  52. van Winden, Frans, 2001. "Emotional Hazard Exemplified by Taxation-Induced Anger," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2-3), pages 491-506.
  53. Justin Esarey & Timothy C. Salmon & Charles Barrilleaux, 2012. "What Motivates Political Preferences? Self-Interest, Ideology, And Fairness In A Laboratory Democracy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(3), pages 604-624, 07.
  54. Gode, Dhananjay K & Sunder, Shyam, 1993. "Allocative Efficiency of Markets with Zero-Intelligence Traders: Market as a Partial Substitute for Individual Rationality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 119-37, February.
  55. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2005. "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," Scholarly Articles 4552533, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  56. Potters, Jan & van Winden, Frans, 1992. "Lobbying and Asymmetric Information," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 74(3), pages 269-92, October.
  57. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:101:y:2013:i:c:p:39-52. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.