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Moral Sentiments and Social Choice: Fairness Considerations in University Admissions

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  • Edi Karni
  • Zvi Safra

Abstract

We examine the implications for social choice of individuals having an intrinsic sense of fairness. Taking the viewpoint that social justice reflects the moral attitudes of the constituent members, we analyze the effect of the intensity of the individual sense of fairness on university admission policies. Assuming that these policies are determined by bargaining over test scores to be used as cut-off points for admission of members of diverse social groups show that, in general, a more intense sense of fairness of the members of a group leads to an admission policy that is more compatible with their idea of fairness. Consequently, a society whose members have a common notion tends to implement fairer admission policies when the intensity of the sense of fairness of individual memebrs increase. This is even if the policies are ultimately determined by the bargaining power of the different groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Edi Karni & Zvi Safra, 2003. "Moral Sentiments and Social Choice: Fairness Considerations in University Admissions," Economics Working Paper Archive 492, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:jhu:papers:492
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rubinstein, Ariel & Safra, Zvi & Thomson, William, 1992. "On the Interpretation of the Nash Bargaining Solution and Its Extension to Non-expected Utility Preferences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1171-1186, September.
    2. Guillermina Jasso & Eva M. Meyersson Milgrom, 2006. "Distributive Justice and CEO Compensation," Discussion Papers 05-020, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    3. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
    4. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434-434.
    5. Machina, Mark J, 2001. "Payoff Kinks in Preferences over Lotteries," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 207-260, November.
    6. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309-309.
    7. Aumann, Robert J & Kurz, Mordecai, 1977. "Power and Taxes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(5), pages 1137-1161, July.
    8. Edi Karni & Zvi Safra, 2002. "Individual Sense of Justice: A Utility Representation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 263-284, January.
    9. Edi Karni, 1996. "Social welfare functions and fairness," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 13(4), pages 487-496.
    10. Colin F. Camerer, 1997. "Progress in Behavioral Game Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 167-188, Fall.
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