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Fairness vs. Social Welfare in Experimental Decisions

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  • Stefan Kohler

Abstract

Experimental evidence from modified dictator games and simple choice situations indicates that concern for overall welfare is an important motive in human decision making. Models of inequality averse agents, as suggested by Fehr and Schmidt (1999) or Bolton and Ockenfels (2000), fall short in explaining behavior of proposers, who reduce their payoff below a fair split of the endowment to maximize social welfare, while other types of social preferences do well on these data. This has created the impression that inequality aversion is a misguided concept. This paper presents a formal model and shows that a combination of welfare concern and inequality aversion changes this result in favor of inequality aversion. It also establishes a unique link between altruism and social welfare in the proposed model.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Kohler, 2005. "Fairness vs. Social Welfare in Experimental Decisions," Economics Working Papers ECO2005/11, European University Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2005/11
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kohler, Stefan, 2013. "Inequality aversion causes equal or unequal division in alternating-offer bargaining," MPRA Paper 40764, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Stefan Kohler, 2014. "Guilt causes equal or unequal division in alternating-offer bargaining," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 34(3), pages 1611-1617.
    3. Aurélie Bonein, 2006. "An empirical study of determinants in decision-making process," Working Papers 06-10, LAMETA, Universitiy of Montpellier, revised Oct 2006.
    4. Christian Thoeni & Simon Gaechter, 2011. "Peer Effects and Social Preferences in Voluntary Cooperation," Discussion Papers 2011-09, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    5. Stefan Kohler, 2006. "Inequality Aversion and Stochastic Decision-making: Experimental Evidence from Zimbabwean Villages after Land Reform," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-061, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    6. Stefan Kohler, 2012. "Incomplete Information about Social Preferences Explains Equal Division and Delay in Bargaining," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(3), pages 1-19, September.
    7. Pelligra, Vittorio & Stanca, Luca, 2013. "To give or not to give? Equity, efficiency and altruistic behavior in an artefactual field experiment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 1-9.
    8. Breitmoser, Yves & Tan, Jonathan H.W., 2013. "Reference dependent altruism in demand bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 127-140.
    9. repec:spr:fininn:v:4:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1186_s40854-018-0105-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Breitmoser, Yves & Tan, Jonathan H.W., 2011. "Ultimata bargaining: generosity without social motives," MPRA Paper 33613, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Kohler, Stefan, 2012. "Envy can promote more equal division in alternating-offer bargaining," MPRA Paper 40761, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social Preferences; Inequality Aversion; Welfare Concern; Reciprocity;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • B49 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Other
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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