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The Merit Primacy Effect

Listed author(s):
  • Alexander Cappelen

    ()

    (Norwegian School of Economics)

  • Karl Ove Moene

    ()

    (University of Oslo)

  • Siv-Elisabeth Skjelbred

    ()

    (University of Oslo)

  • Bertil Tungodden

    ()

    (Norwegian School of Economics)

Do people give primacy to merit when luck partly determines earnings? This paper reports from a novel experiment where third-party spectators have to decide whether to redistribute from a high-earner to a low-earner in cases where earnings are determined by luck and merit. Our main finding is that the spectators assign strong primacy to merit in such situations, and as a result violate basic fairness conditions. We believe that the results shed new light on inequality acceptance in society, in particular by showing how just a little bit of merit can make people significantly more inequality accepting.

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File URL: http://humcap.uchicago.edu/RePEc/hka/wpaper/Cappelen_Moene_etal_2017_merit-primacy-effect.pdf
File Function: First version, April 25, 2017
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group in its series Working Papers with number 2017-047.

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Date of creation: Jun 2017
Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2017-047
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Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.hceconomics.org/
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