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Fairness and family background

Author

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  • Ingvild AlmÃ¥s

    (Stockholm University, Sweden; Norwegian School of Economics, Norway)

  • Alexander W Cappelen
  • Kjell G Salvanes
  • Erik Ø Sørensen
  • Bertil Tungodden

    (Norwegian School of Economics, Norway)

Abstract

Fairness preferences fundamentally affect individual behavior and play an important role in shaping social and political institutions. However, people differ both with respect to what they view as fair and with respect to how much weight they attach to fairness considerations. In this article, we study the role of family background in explaining these heterogeneities in fairness preferences. In particular, we examine how socioeconomic background relates to fairness views and to how people make trade-offs between fairness and self-interest. To study this, we conducted an economic experiment with a representative sample of 14- to 15-year-old and matched the experimental data to administrative data on parental income and education. The participants made two distributive choices in the experiment. The first choice was to distribute money between themselves and another participant in a situation where there was no difference in merit. The second choice was to distribute money between two other participants with unequal merits. Our main finding is that there is a systematic difference in fairness view between children from low-socioceconomic status (SES) families and the rest of the participants; more than 50 percent of the participants from low-SES families are egalitarians, whereas only about 20 percent in the rest of the sample hold this fairness view. In contrast, we find no significant difference in the weight attached to fairness between children from different socioeconomic groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Ingvild AlmÃ¥s & Alexander W Cappelen & Kjell G Salvanes & Erik Ø Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2017. "Fairness and family background," Politics, Philosophy & Economics, , vol. 16(2), pages 117-131, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:pophec:v:16:y:2017:i:2:p:117-131
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Peter Dolton & Richard S.J. Tol, 2019. "Correlates of Social Value Orientation: Evidence from a Large Sample of the UK Population," Working Paper Series 0119, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.
    3. Dániel Horn & Hubert János Kiss & Tünde Lénárd, 2021. "Gender differences in preferences of adolescents: evidence from a large-scale classroom experiment," CERS-IE WORKING PAPERS 2103, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies.
    4. Kristoffer B. Hvidberg & Claus Kreiner & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2020. "Social Position and Fairness Views," NBER Working Papers 28099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Ingvild Almås & Alexander W. Cappelen & Bertil Tungodden, 2020. "Cutthroat Capitalism versus Cuddly Socialism: Are Americans More Meritocratic and Efficiency-Seeking than Scandinavians?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(5), pages 1753-1788.
    6. Sutter, Matthias & Zoller, Claudia & Glätzle-Rützler, Daniela, 2019. "Economic behavior of children and adolescents – A first survey of experimental economics results," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 98-121.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fairness; family background; adolescents;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • 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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