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Helping the meaner, hurting the nicer: The contribution versus distribution game

  • Staffiero, Gianandrea

    ()

    (IESE Business School)

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    Wide experimental evidence shows that people do care about their opponents' payoff during social interaction. Our research aims to shed light on the relative importance of different motives in non-selfish choices highlighted in the recent literature. After a standard public-good game, one player is given the possibility to increase or decrease his opponent's payoff. While our baseline treatment replicates the tendency to hurt richer but lower-contributing players and help poorer but higher-contributing players, if we add exogenous assignments we find substantial willingness to hurt the rich, even if they have contributed more, and to help the poor, even if they have contributed less. These results show a greater focus on correcting inequality than on punishing or rewarding particular behavior. Moreover, we also find that subjects disregard efficiency, in terms of the overall "pie" to be shared. Overall, our data support inequality aversion as a more robust phenomenon than reciprocity and efficiency considerations.

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    File URL: http://www.iese.edu/research/pdfs/DI-0652-E.pdf
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    Paper provided by IESE Business School in its series IESE Research Papers with number D/652.

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    Length: 32 pages
    Date of creation: 24 Sep 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ebg:iesewp:d-0652
    Contact details of provider: Postal: IESE Business School, Av Pearson 21, 08034 Barcelona, SPAIN
    Web page: http://www.iese.edu/

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    1. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2008. "Testing theories of fairness--Intentions matter," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 287-303, January.
    2. Selten, R. & Abbink, K. & Buchta, J. & Sadrieh, A., 2002. "How to Play 3x3 Games : A Strategy Method Experiment," Discussion Paper 2002-39, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    3. Kritikos, Alexander & Bolle, Friedel, 2001. "Distributional concerns: equity- or efficiency-oriented?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 333-338, December.
    4. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    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. Dufwenberg, M. & Kirchsteiger, G., 1998. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Discussion Paper 1998-37, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    7. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
    8. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    9. Guth, Werner & Kliemt, Hartmut & Ockenfels, Axel, 2003. "Fairness versus efficiency: An experimental study of (mutual) gift giving," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 465-475, April.
    10. Martin Sefton & Robert Shupp & James M. Walker, 2006. "The Effect of Rewards and Sanctions in Provision of Public Goods," Caepr Working Papers 2006-005, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington, revised Aug 2006.
    11. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
    12. Gary Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Axel Ockenfels, 1998. "Measuring Motivations for the Reciprocal Responses Observed in a Simple Dilemma Game," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 207-219, December.
    13. Offerman, Theo, 2002. "Hurting hurts more than helping helps," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(8), pages 1423-1437, September.
    14. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
    15. repec:dgr:kubcen:200239 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Abbink, Klaus & Irlenbusch, Bernd & Renner, Elke, 2000. "The moonlighting game: An experimental study on reciprocity and retribution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 265-277, June.
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