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Promoting Justice by Treating People Unequally: An Experimental Study

  • Alice Becker

    ()

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena, Germany)

  • Luis M. Miller

    ()

    (Centre for Experimental Social Sciences, Nuffield College, University of Oxford)

Which inequalities among individuals are considered unjust? This paper reports the results of an experiment designed to study distributive choices dealing with arbitrarily unequal initial endowments. In a three-person distribution problem where subjects either know or do not know their endowments, we ï¬nd impartial behavior to be a stable pattern. Subjects either compensate for initial inequalities fully or not at all in both conditions, and they do so more often when they do not know their endowment than when they know it. Moreover, the type and the size of the good to be distributed also affect the frequency of impartial behavior.

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Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2009-008.

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Date of creation: 30 Jan 2009
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Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2009-008
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  1. Armin Falk & David Huffman & Gert Wagner & Jurgen Schupp & Thomas Dohmen & Uwe Sunde, 2005. "Individual risk attitudes: New evidence from a large, representative, experimentally-validated survey," Framed Field Experiments 00140, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Todd L. Cherry & Peter Frykblom & Jason F. Shogren, 2002. "Hardnose the Dictator," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1218-1221, September.
  3. Steven R. Beckman & Buhong Zheng & John P. Formby & W. James Smith, 2002. "Envy, malice and Pareto efficiency: An experimental examination," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 349-367.
  4. Edi Karni & Tim Salmon & Barry Sopher, 2008. "Individual sense of fairness: an experimental study," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 174-189, June.
  5. Norman Frohlich & Joe Oppenheimer & Anja Kurki, 2004. "Modeling Other-Regarding Preferences and an Experimental Test," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 119(1_2), pages 91-117, 04.
  6. James Konow, 2003. "Which Is the Fairest One of All? A Positive Analysis of Justice Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1188-1239, December.
  7. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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