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Social Class and (Un)ethical Behavior: Evidence from a Large Population Sample

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  • Trautmann, Stefan T.

    (Tilburg University)

  • van de Kuilen, Gijs

    (Tilburg University)

  • Zeckhauser, Richard J.

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

We test whether and how membership in the upper class affects ethical behavior in a large representative population sample. Using objective measures of socioeconomic status to define class, we find no evidence of a general tendency for upper class to be less ethical, although we do replicate previous findings that higher status leads to less condemnation of infidelity. We also find evidence that higher class status leads to more self-focus and disengagement, as previously shown in laboratory studies with convenience samples.

Suggested Citation

  • Trautmann, Stefan T. & van de Kuilen, Gijs & Zeckhauser, Richard J., 2012. "Social Class and (Un)ethical Behavior: Evidence from a Large Population Sample," Working Paper Series rwp12-019, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp12-019
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    1. Sutter, Matthias & Kocher, Martin G., 2007. "Trust and trustworthiness across different age groups," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 364-382, May.
    2. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2002. "Who trusts others?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 207-234, August.
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