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Screening Ethics when Honest Agents Care about Fairness

Author

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  • Ingela Alger

    () (Boston College)

  • Regis Renault

    () (GEMMA, Université de Caen)

Abstract

We explore the potential for discriminating between honest and dishonest agents, when a principal faces an agent with private information about the circumstances of the exchange (good or bad). When honest agents reveal circumstances truthfully independently of the contract offered, the principal leaves a rent only to dishonest agents (even if honest agents are willing to lie about their ethics); the principal is able to screen between good and bad circumstances. In contrast, if honest behavior is conditional on the contract being fair, the principal cannot screen along the ethics dimension. If the probability that the agent is dishonest is large, the optimal mechanism is as if the agent were dishonest with certainty (standard second best). Otherwise, it is as if the agent were honest with certainty (first best). In the latter case, the principal is unable to screen between circumstances if the agent is dishonest.

Suggested Citation

  • Ingela Alger & Regis Renault, 2000. "Screening Ethics when Honest Agents Care about Fairness," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 489, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 09 Nov 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:489
    Note: This paper was previously circulated as "Screening among Agents with Heterogeneous Ethics".
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    File URL: http://fmwww.bc.edu/EC-P/wp489.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ingela Alger & Régis Renault, 2007. "Screening Ethics when Honest Agents Keep their Word," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 30(2), pages 291-311, February.
    2. Dwight M. Jaffee & Thomas Russell, 1976. "Imperfect Information, Uncertainty, and Credit Rationing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 651-666.
    3. Forges, Francoise & Koessler, Frederic, 2005. "Communication equilibria with partially verifiable types," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(7), pages 793-811, November.
    4. Alger, Ingela & Albert Ma, Ching-to, 2003. "Moral hazard, insurance, and some collusion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 225-247, February.
    5. Picard, Pierre, 1996. "Auditing claims in the insurance market with fraud: The credibility issue," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 27-56, December.
    6. Lacker, Jeffrey M & Weinberg, John A, 1989. "Optimal Contracts under Costly State Falsification," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1345-1363, December.
    7. Jerry R. Green & Jean-Jacques Laffont, 1986. "Partially Verifiable Information and Mechanism Design," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 447-456.
    8. Keith J. Crocker & John Morgan, 1998. "Is Honesty the Best Policy? Curtailing Insurance Fraud through Optimal Incentive Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 355-375, April.
    9. Dawes, Robyn M & Thaler, Richard H, 1988. "Anomalies: Cooperation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 187-197, Summer.
    10. Brian Erard & Jonathan S. Feinstein, 1994. "Honesty and Evasion in the Tax Compliance Game," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(1), pages 1-19, Spring.
    11. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Schmitz, Patrick W., 2007. "Optimal selling strategies when buyers may have hard information," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(4), pages 859-870, May.
    2. Bierbrauer, Felix & Netzer, Nick, 2016. "Mechanism design and intentions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 557-603.
    3. Deneckere, Raymond & Severinov, Sergei, 2008. "Mechanism design with partial state verifiability," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 487-513, November.
    4. Alger, Ingela & Lehmann, Laurent & Weibull, Jörgen W., 2018. "Uninvadable social behaviors and preferences in group-structured populations," TSE Working Papers 18-888, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    5. Pezeshki, Yahya & Baboli, Armand & Cheikhrouhou, Naoufel & Modarres, Mohammad & Akbari Jokar, Mohammad R., 2013. "A rewarding-punishing coordination mechanism based on Trust in a divergent supply chain," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 230(3), pages 527-538.
    6. Forges, Francoise & Koessler, Frederic, 2005. "Communication equilibria with partially verifiable types," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(7), pages 793-811, November.
    7. Jeanne Hagenbach & Frédéric Koessler & Eduardo Perez‐Richet, 2014. "Certifiable Pre‐Play Communication: Full Disclosure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(3), pages 1093-1131, May.
    8. Ingela Alger & Régis Renault, 2007. "Screening Ethics when Honest Agents Keep their Word," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 30(2), pages 291-311, February.
    9. Stephanie Rosenkranz & Patrick W. Schmitz, 2007. "Reserve Prices in Auctions as Reference Points," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(520), pages 637-653, April.
    10. Laurent Denant‐Boemont & David Masclet & Charles Noussair, 2011. "Announcement, Observation And Honesty In The Voluntary Contributions Game," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(2), pages 207-228, May.
    11. Stefano Demichelis & Jorgen W. Weibull, 2008. "Language, Meaning, and Games: A Model of Communication, Coordination, and Evolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1292-1311, September.
    12. Demichelis, Stefano & Weibull, Jörgen, 2006. "Efficiency, communication and honesty," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 645, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 28 Nov 2006.
    13. Jeanne Hagenbach & Frédéric Koessler & Eduardo Perez-Richet, 2012. "Certifiable Pre-Play Communication: Full Disclosure," Working Papers hal-00753473, HAL.
    14. Saran, Rene, 2011. "Bilateral trading with naive traders," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 544-557, June.
    15. Schwardmann, Peter & van der Weele, Joel, 2017. "Deception and Self-Deception," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 25, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    16. Conley, John P. & Neilson, William, 2009. "Endogenous games and equilibrium adoption of social norms and ethical constraints," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 761-774, July.
    17. repec:kap:jbuset:v:145:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10551-015-2834-7 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    ethics; honesty; adverse selection; screening;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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