IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/kap/expeco/v20y2017i4d10.1007_s10683-017-9516-5.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Redistributive choices and increasing income inequality: experimental evidence for income as a signal of deservingness

Author

Listed:
  • Laura K. Gee

    (Tufts University)

  • Marco Migueis

    (Federal Reserve Board)

  • Sahar Parsa

    (Tufts University)

Abstract

We explore the relation between redistribution choices, source of income, and pre-redistribution inequality. Previous studies find that when income is earned through work there is less support for redistribution than when income is determined by luck. Using a lab experiment, we vary both the income-generating process (luck vs. performance) and the level of inequality (low vs. high). We find that an increase in inequality has less impact on redistribution choices when income is earned through performance than when income results from luck. This result is likely explained by individuals using income differences as a heuristic to infer relative deservingness. If people believe income inequality increases as a result of performance rather than luck, then they are likely to believe the poor deserve to stay poor and the rich deserve to stay rich.

Suggested Citation

  • Laura K. Gee & Marco Migueis & Sahar Parsa, 2017. "Redistributive choices and increasing income inequality: experimental evidence for income as a signal of deservingness," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 20(4), pages 894-923, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:20:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10683-017-9516-5
    DOI: 10.1007/s10683-017-9516-5
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s10683-017-9516-5
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1007/s10683-017-9516-5?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
    2. Rutstrom, E. Elisabet & Williams, Melonie B., 2000. "Entitlements and fairness:: an experimental study of distributive preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 75-89, September.
    3. Lise Vesterlund, 2015. "The Effect of Incentives on Real Effort: Evidence from the Slider Task," Working Paper 5661, Department of Economics, University of Pittsburgh.
    4. Pedro Rey-Biel & Roman Sheremeta & Neslihan Uler, 2018. "When Income Depends on Performance and Luck: The Effects of Culture and Information on Giving," Research in Experimental Economics, in: Anna Gunnthorsdottir & Douglas A. Norton (ed.), Experimental Economics and Culture, volume 20, pages 167-203, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    5. 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.
    6. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 699-746.
    7. Fatih Guvenen & Burhanettin Kuruscu & Serdar Ozkan, 2014. "Taxation of Human Capital and Wage Inequality: A Cross-Country Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(2), pages 818-850.
    8. Agranov, Marina & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2015. "Equilibrium tax rates and income redistribution: A laboratory study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 45-58.
    9. Ruben Durante & Louis Putterman & Joël Weele, 2014. "Preferences For Redistribution And Perception Of Fairness: An Experimental Study," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 1059-1086, August.
    10. Balafoutas, Loukas & Kocher, Martin G. & Putterman, Louis & Sutter, Matthias, 2013. "Equality, equity and incentives: An experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 32-51.
    11. Ku, Hyejin & Salmon, Timothy C., 2013. "Procedural fairness and the tolerance for income inequality," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 111-128.
    12. Antonio Cabrales & Rosemarie Nagel & José Rodríguez Mora, 2012. "It is Hobbes, not Rousseau: an experiment on voting and redistribution," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(2), pages 278-308, June.
    13. Iversen, Torben & Soskice, David, 2006. "Electoral Institutions and the Politics of Coalitions: Why Some Democracies Redistribute More Than Others," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 100(2), pages 165-181, May.
    14. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2005. "Fairness and Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 960-980, September.
    15. Alexander W. Cappelen & Astri Drange Hole & Erik Ø Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2007. "The Pluralism of Fairness Ideals: An Experimental Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 818-827, June.
    16. 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.
    17. Giuseppe Bertola & Andrea Ichino, 1995. "Wage Inequality and Unemployment: United States versus Europe," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1995, Volume 10, pages 13-66, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Ruffle, Bradley J., 1998. "More Is Better, But Fair Is Fair: Tipping in Dictator and Ultimatum Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 247-265, May.
    19. Oxoby, Robert J. & Spraggon, John, 2008. "Mine and yours: Property rights in dictator games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 703-713, March.
    20. Sandmo, Agnar, 1983. " Progressive Taxation, Redistribution, and Labor Supply," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 85(3), pages 311-323.
    21. Lefgren, Lars J. & Sims, David P. & Stoddard, Olga B., 2016. "Effort, luck, and voting for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 89-97.
    22. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1998. "What Has Economics to Say about Racial Discrimination?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 91-100, Spring.
    23. Victoria Prowse & David Gill, 2009. "A Novel Computerized Real Effort Task Based on Sliders," Economics Series Working Papers 435, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    24. Steven R. Beckman & Gregory DeAngelo & W. James Smith & Ning Wang, 2016. "Is social choice gender-neutral? Reference dependence and sexual selection in decisions toward risk and inequality," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 191-211, June.
    25. Angela C. M. de Oliveira & Catherine Eckel & Rachel T. A. Croson, 2012. "The Stability of Social Preferences in a Low-Income Neighborhood," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 79(1), pages 15-45, July.
    26. Cox, James C. & Friedman, Daniel & Gjerstad, Steven, 2007. "A tractable model of reciprocity and fairness," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 17-45, April.
    27. Victoria Prowse & David Gill, 2009. "A Novel Computerized Real Effort Task Based on Sliders," Economics Series Working Papers 435, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    28. Krawczyk, Michal, 2010. "A glimpse through the veil of ignorance: Equality of opportunity and support for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 131-141, February.
    29. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-661, September.
    30. Nisvan Erkal & Lata Gangadharan & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2011. "Relative Earnings and Giving in a Real-Effort Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3330-3348, December.
    31. 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 914-927, October.
    32. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 991-1013, September.
    33. Milanovic, Branko, 2000. "The median-voter hypothesis, income inequality, and income redistribution: an empirical test with the required data," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 367-410, September.
    34. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    35. 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, July.
    36. Fahr, Rene & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2000. "Fairness as a constraint on trust in reciprocity: earned property rights in a reciprocal exchange experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 275-282, March.
    37. Utteeyo Dasgupta, 2011. "Do procedures matter in fairness allocations? Experimental evidence in mixed gender pairings," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 31(1), pages 820-829.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Buchanan, Joy A. & Roberts, Gavin, 2022. "Other people’s money: Preferences for equality in groups," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 73(C).
    2. Hope, David & Limberg, Julian & Weber, Nina Sophie, 2021. "Why Do (Some) Ordinary Americans Support Tax Cuts for the Rich? Evidence From a Randomized Survey Experiment," SocArXiv chk9b, Center for Open Science.
    3. Grosch, Kerstin & Ibanez, Marcela & Viceisza, Angelino, 2017. "Competition and prosociality: A field experiment in Ghana," GlobalFood Discussion Papers 266141, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
    4. Cardella, Eric & Roomets, Alex, 2022. "Pay distribution preferences and productivity effects: An experiment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 96(C).
    5. Abhijit Ramalingam & Brock V. Stoddard, 2020. "Old habits die hard: The experience of inequality and persistence of low cooperation," Working Papers 20-07, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
    6. Grosch, Kerstin & Ibañez, Marcela & Viceisza, Angelino, 2022. "Competition and prosociality: A lab-in-the-field experiment in Ghana," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 99(C).
    7. Gill, David & Prowse, Victoria, 2019. "Measuring costly effort using the slider task," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 1-9.
    8. Abhijit Ramalingam & Brock V. Stoddard, 2021. "Does reducing inequality increase cooperation?​," GRU Working Paper Series GRU_2021_022, City University of Hong Kong, Department of Economics and Finance, Global Research Unit.
    9. Pedro Rey-Biel & Roman Sheremeta & Neslihan Uler, 2018. "When Income Depends on Performance and Luck: The Effects of Culture and Information on Giving," Research in Experimental Economics, in: Anna Gunnthorsdottir & Douglas A. Norton (ed.), Experimental Economics and Culture, volume 20, pages 167-203, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    10. Guenther, Isabel & Tetteh-Baah, Samuel Kofi, 2019. "The impact of discrimination on redistributive preferences and productivity: experimental evidence from the United States," VfS Annual Conference 2019 (Leipzig): 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Democracy and Market Economy 203652, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    11. Leo Ahrens, 2020. "Unfair Inequality and the Demand for Redistribution," LIS Working papers 771, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    12. Maite D. Laméris & Richard Jong-A-Pin & Rasmus Wiese, 2018. "An Experimental Test of the Validity of Survey-Measured Political Ideology," CESifo Working Paper Series 7139, CESifo.
    13. Eckel, Catherine C. & Fatas, Enrique & Kass, Malcolm, 2022. "Sacrifice: An experiment on the political economy of extreme intergroup punishment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 90(C).
    14. De Geest, Lawrence R. & Kidwai, Abdul H. & Portillo, Javier E., 2022. "Ours, not yours: Property rights, poaching and deterrence in common-pool resources," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 89(C).
    15. Tetteh-Baah, Samuel Kofi & Günther, Isabel, 2020. "The impact of gender and ethnic discrimination on redistribution and productivity," VfS Annual Conference 2020 (Virtual Conference): Gender Economics 224633, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    16. Mercer, Antonio Carlos & Póvoa, Angela Cristiane Santos & Pech, Wesley, 2021. "The effect of luck framing on distributional preferences," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(4), pages 320-329.
    17. Feltovich, Nick, 2019. "Is earned bargaining power more fully exploited?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 152-180.
    18. Grundmann, Susanna, 2020. "Do just deserts and competition shape patterns of cheating?," Passauer Diskussionspapiere, Volkswirtschaftliche Reihe V-79-20, University of Passau, Faculty of Business and Economics.
    19. Koch, Christian & Nikiforakis, Nikos & Noussair, Charles N., 2021. "Covenants before the swords: The limits to efficient cooperation in heterogeneous groups," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 307-321.
    20. Christine L. Exley & Judd B. Kessler, 2018. "Equity Concerns are Narrowly Framed," NBER Working Papers 25326, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Jain, Prachi & Lay, Margaret J., 2021. "Are informal transfers driven by strategic risk-sharing or fairness? Evidence from an experiment in Kenya," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 191(C), pages 186-196.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Cardella, Eric & Roomets, Alex, 2022. "Pay distribution preferences and productivity effects: An experiment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 96(C).
    2. Lefgren, Lars J. & Sims, David P. & Stoddard, Olga B., 2016. "Effort, luck, and voting for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 89-97.
    3. Vanessa Valero, 2022. "Redistribution and beliefs about the source of income inequality," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 25(3), pages 876-901, June.
    4. Grundmann, Susanna, 2020. "Do just deserts and competition shape patterns of cheating?," Passauer Diskussionspapiere, Volkswirtschaftliche Reihe V-79-20, University of Passau, Faculty of Business and Economics.
    5. Grimalda, Gianluca & Kar, Anirban & Proto, Eugenio, 2012. "Everyone Wants a Chance : Initial Positions and Fairness in Ultimatum Games," Economic Research Papers 270638, University of Warwick - Department of Economics.
    6. Pedro Rey-Biel & Roman Sheremeta & Neslihan Uler, 2018. "When Income Depends on Performance and Luck: The Effects of Culture and Information on Giving," Research in Experimental Economics, in: Anna Gunnthorsdottir & Douglas A. Norton (ed.), Experimental Economics and Culture, volume 20, pages 167-203, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    7. Cetre, Sophie & Lobeck, Max & Senik, Claudia & Verdier, Thierry, 2019. "Preferences over income distribution: Evidence from a choice experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 74(C).
    8. Gerald Eisenkopf, 2018. "Unequal Incentives and Perceived Fairness in Groups," Games, MDPI, vol. 9(3), pages 1-18, September.
    9. Tonin, Mirco & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2017. "Sharing one’s fortune? An experimental study on earned income and giving," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 112-118.
    10. Gürdal, Mehmet Y. & Torul, Orhan & Vostroknutov, Alexander, 2020. "Norm compliance, enforcement, and the survival of redistributive institutions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 313-326.
    11. Sausgruber, Rupert & Sonntag, Axel & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2021. "Disincentives from redistribution: evidence on a dividend of democracy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 136(C).
    12. Pedro Rey-Biel & Roman M. Sheremeta & Neslihan Uler, 2011. "(Bad) Luck or (Lack of) Effort?: Comparing Social Sharing Norms between US and Europe," Working Papers 11-11, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    13. Fabio Galeotti & Reuben Kline & Raimondello Orsini, 2014. "When Foul Play Seems Fair: Dishonesty as a Response to Violations of Just Deserts," Post-Print halshs-02467507, HAL.
    14. Ku, Hyejin & Salmon, Timothy C., 2013. "Procedural fairness and the tolerance for income inequality," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 111-128.
    15. Deffains, Bruno & Espinosa, Romain & Thöni, Christian, 2016. "Political self-serving bias and redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 67-74.
    16. Maite D. Laméris & Richard Jong-A-Pin & Rasmus Wiese, 2018. "An Experimental Test of the Validity of Survey-Measured Political Ideology," CESifo Working Paper Series 7139, CESifo.
    17. Eisenkopf, Gerald & Fischbacher, Urs & Föllmi-Heusi, Franziska, 2013. "Unequal opportunities and distributive justice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 51-61.
    18. Balafoutas, Loukas & Kocher, Martin G. & Putterman, Louis & Sutter, Matthias, 2013. "Equality, equity and incentives: An experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 32-51.
    19. Feltovich, Nick, 2019. "Is earned bargaining power more fully exploited?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 152-180.
    20. Markus Tepe & Fabian Paetzel & Jan Lorenz & Maximilian Lutz, 2021. "Efficiency loss and support for income redistribution: Evidence from a laboratory experiment," Rationality and Society, , vol. 33(3), pages 313-340, August.

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:20:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10683-017-9516-5. 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: . General contact details of provider: http://www.springer.com .

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Sonal Shukla or Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.springer.com .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.