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Responsibility-sensitive fair compensation in different cultures

  • Erik Schokkaert
  • Kurt Devooght

Recently many philosophers and social choice theorists have questioned traditional welfare egalitarianism by introducing a notion of responsibility. They propose to distinguish between two sets of individual characteristics: those for which individuals are to be kept responsible and those for which they can be compensated. This approach raises the related questions of where to draw the line between those two sets of characteristics and how to operationalise the notion of 'responsibility-sensitive fair compensation'. The answers to these questions may depend on the cultural context. We present some empirical results from questionnaire studies in Belgium, Burkina Faso and Indonesia. The notion of control seems to play an important role in determining the variables for which individuals are to be held responsible. The strong notion of 'full compensation' is clearly rejected in favour of more conservative distribution rules. Moreover, a large fraction of the respondents take the non-liberal position that the talented should be punished if they do not use their talents in a productive way. We find some intercultural differences. Belgian students are more in favour of redistribution. Indonesian students are the most conservative. While the Pareto principle is decisively rejected in Burkina Faso and Belgium, it is accepted by a majority of the Indonesian sample.

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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 6574.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Jun 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:6574
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  1. Konow, James, 1996. "A positive theory of economic fairness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 13-35, October.
  2. Erik Schokkaert, 1998. "Mr. Fairmind Is Post-Welfarist: Opinions on Distributive Justice," Public Economics Working Paper Series ces9809, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën, Working Group Public Economics.
  3. Bossert, W., 1993. "Redistribution Mechanisms Based on Individual Characteristics," Working Papers 9307, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics.
  4. Marc Fleurbaey & Walter Bossert, 1996. "Redistribution and compensation (*)," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 343-355.
  5. Amiel, Yoram & Cowell, Frank A., 1992. "Measurement of income inequality : Experimental test by questionnaire," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 3-26, February.
  6. Erik Schokkaert & Geert Dhaene & Carine Van De Voorde, 1998. "Risk adjustment and the trade-off between efficiency and risk selection: an application of the theory of fair compensation," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 7(5), pages 465-480.
  7. Roemer, J.E., 1992. "A Pragmatic Theory of Responsibility for the Egalitarian Planner," Papers 391, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
  8. Bossert, W & Fleurbaey, M & Van de gaer, D, 1996. "On Second-Best Compensation," Working Papers 9601, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics.
  9. Schokkaert, Erik & Capeau, Bart, 1991. "Interindividual Differences in Opinions about Distributive Justice," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 325-45.
  10. Fleurbaey, Marc, 1995. "Equal Opportunity or Equal Social Outcome?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(01), pages 25-55, April.
  11. Fleurbaey Marc, 1995. "Three Solutions for the Compensation Problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 505-521, April.
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