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Dominance and Submission: Social Status Biases Economic Sanctions

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Abstract

Social hierarchy is persistent in all almost all societies. Social norms and their enforcement are part of sustaining hierarchical systems. This paper combines social status and norm enforcement, by introducing status in a dictator game with third party punishment. Status is conveyed by surname; half of the third parties face dictators with a noble name and half face dictators with a common name. Receivers all have common names. We find that social status has an impact on behavior. Our results indicate that low status men are punished to a greater extent than low status women, high status men, or high status women. Interestingly, discrimination occurs only in male to male interaction. For offers below half, or almost half of the allocated resource, male third parties punish male dictators with common names almost twice as much as their noble counterparts. We find no support for female discrimination. This result suggests that social status has important implications for men’s decisions to use economic punishment, and that this holds true in situations where reputation or strategic concerns have no importance.

Suggested Citation

  • von Essen, Emma & Ranehill, Eva, 2011. "Dominance and Submission: Social Status Biases Economic Sanctions," Research Papers in Economics 2011:1, Stockholm University, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2011_0001
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    1. Holm, Hakan J., 2000. "Gender-Based Focal Points," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 292-314, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Asiedu, Edward & Ibanez, Marcela, 2014. "The weaker sex? Gender differences in punishment across Matrilineal and Patriarchal Societies," Discussion Papers 165743, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
    2. Almenberg, Johan & Dreber, Anna, 2011. "When Does the Price Affect the Taste? Results from a Wine Experiment," Journal of Wine Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(01), pages 111-121, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Status; punishment; discrimination;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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