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Promoting Justice by Treating People Unequally: An Experimental Study

Author

Listed:
  • Alice Becker

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena, Germany)

  • Luis M. Miller

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Alice Becker & Luis M. Miller, 2009. "Promoting Justice by Treating People Unequally: An Experimental Study," Jena Economic Research Papers 2009-008, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2009-008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edi Karni & Tim Salmon & Barry Sopher, 2008. "Individual sense of fairness: an experimental study," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(2), pages 174-189, June.
    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. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Juergen Schupp & Gert Wagner, 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," Working Papers 2096, The Field Experiments Website.
    4. 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, April.
    5. 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.
    6. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. 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;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 19(2), pages 349-367.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ubeda, Paloma, 2014. "The consistency of fairness rules: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 88-100.
    2. Gomez, Yolanda & Martínez-Molés, Víctor & Urbano, Amparo & Vila, Jose, 2016. "The attraction effect in mid-involvement categories: An experimental economics approach," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 5082-5088.
    3. Grimalday, Gianluca & Karz, Anirban & Proto, Eugenio, 2012. "Everyone Wants a Chance: Initial Positions and Fairness in Ultimatum Games," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 93, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    4. Klempt Charlotte & Pull Kerstin & Stadler Manfred, 2019. "Asymmetric Information in Simple Bargaining Games: An Experimental Study," German Economic Review, De Gruyter, vol. 20(1), pages 29-51, February.
    5. Miller, Luis & Ubeda, Paloma, 2012. "Are women more sensitive to the decision-making context?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 98-104.
    6. Gianluca Grimalda & Anirban Kar & Eugenio Proto, 2016. "Procedural fairness in lotteries assigning initial roles in a dynamic setting," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(4), pages 819-841, December.
    7. Charlotte Klempt, 2016. "The Impact of Random Help on the Dynamics of Indirect Reciprocity," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(2), pages 1058-1063.
    8. Marja-Liisa Halko & Topi Miettinen, 2017. "From ideals to deals—The effect of impartiality experience on stakeholder behavior," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 12(8), pages 1-16, August.
    9. Joshua Chen-Yuan Teng & Joseph Tao-yi Wang & C. C. Yang, 2020. "Justice, what money can buy: a lab experiment on primary social goods and the Rawlsian difference principle," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 45-69, March.
    10. Alice Becker, 2013. "Accountability and the fairness bias: the effects of effort vs. luck," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 41(3), pages 685-699, September.
    11. Alice Becker, 2011. "Accountability and the fairness bias in the context of joint production: Effects of bonuses and opportunities," Jena Economic Research Papers 2011-004, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    12. Bogliacino, Francesco & Jiménez Lozano, Laura & Grimalda, Gianluca, 2018. "Consultative democracy and trust11We thank Vanessa Carrillo, Jairo Paéz and Daniel Reyes for their help during the experiments. A special thanks to Franci Beltrán, Jairo Paéz and Alfonso Peña for prov," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 55-67.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    veil of ignorance; impartial behavior; distributive justice; procedural fairness;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior

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