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Distinguishing Social Preferences from Preferences for Altruism

  • Raymond Fisman
  • Shachar Kariv
  • Daniel Markovits

We report a laboratory experiment that enables us to distinguish preferences for altruism (concerning tradeoffs between own payoffs and the payoffs of others) from social preferences (concerning tradeoffs between the payoffs of others). By using graphical representations of three-person Dictator Games that vary the relative prices of giving, we generate a very rich data set well-suited to studying behavior at the level of the individual subject. We attempt to recover subjects’ underlying preferences by estimating a constant elasticity of substitution (CES) model that represents altruistic and social preferences. We find that both social preferences and preferences for altruism are highly heterogeneous, ranging from utilitarian to Rawlsian. In spite of this heterogeneity across subjects, there exists a strong positive withinsubject correlation between the efficiency-equity tradeoffs made in altruistic and social preferences.

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Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series Levine's Bibliography with number 784828000000000284.

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Date of creation: 19 Sep 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:784828000000000284
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  1. James Andreoni & William T. Harbaugh, 2006. "Power Indices for Revealed Preference Tests," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001257, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Gary E Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 1997. "A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1889, David K. Levine.
  3. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. Raymond Fisman & Shachar Kariv & Daniel Markovits, 2007. "Individual Preferences for Giving," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1858-1876, December.
  5. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  6. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
  7. Varian, Hal R, 1982. "The Nonparametric Approach to Demand Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 945-73, July.
  8. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. Afriat, Sidney N, 1972. "Efficiency Estimation of Production Function," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 13(3), pages 568-98, October.
  10. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  11. Gary E. Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 1998. "Strategy and Equity: An ERC Analysis of the Guth-van Damme Game," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2060, David K. Levine.
  12. Raymond Fisman & Shachar Kariv & Daniel Markovits, 2005. "Distinguishing Social Preferences from Preferences for Altruism," Economics Working Papers 0061, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  13. 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.
  14. Varian, Hal R, 1983. "Non-Parametric Tests of Consumer Behaviour," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 99-110, January.
  15. 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.
  16. Bolton, Gary E, 1991. "A Comparative Model of Bargaining: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1096-136, December.
  17. Edi Karni & Zvi Safra, 2002. "Individual Sense of Justice: A Utility Representation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 263-284, January.
  18. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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