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Social Position and Distributive Justice: Experimental Evidence

Author

Listed:
  • Kurtis Swope

    () (Department of Economics, U.S. Naval Academy, 589 McNair Road, Annapolis, MD 21402, USA)

  • John Cadigan

    (Department of Economics, Gettysburg College, 300 North Washington Street, Gettysburg, PA 17325, USA)

  • Pamela Schmitt

    () (Department of Economics, U.S. Naval Academy, 589 McNair Road, Annapolis, MD 21402, USA)

  • Robert Shupp

    (Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University, 202 Agriculture Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA)

Abstract

Using a simple, double-blind dictator experiment, we examine the extent to which subjects' choices of distributive shares are influenced by unearned social position. We measure social position by the initial distributive shares (resources) and the subjects' ability to determine the final distributive shares (power). We find that subjects' decisions are consistent with Rawls' (1971) hypothesis that individuals expect a greater share when in a position with more power and initial resources. Finally, we test if subjects' choices under a laboratory veil of ignorance are consistent with Rawls' concept of distributive justice. “Veiled” individuals exhibit preferences that are less risk-averse and have greater variance than Rawls hypothesized.

Suggested Citation

  • Kurtis Swope & John Cadigan & Pamela Schmitt & Robert Shupp, 2008. "Social Position and Distributive Justice: Experimental Evidence," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 811-818, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:74:3:y:2008:p:811-818
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    6. Marco Faillo & Matteo Rizzolli & Stephan Tontrup, 2016. "Thou shalt not steal (from hard-working people)An experiment on respect for property claims," Econometica Working Papers wp58, Econometica.
    7. Thunström, Linda, 2019. "Preferences for fairness over losses," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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