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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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    File URL: http://zs.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/jportal_jparticle_00142425
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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, pages 1218-1221.
    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. Charlotte Klempt, 2012. "The Impact of Random Help on the Dynamics of Indirect Reciprocity," IAW Discussion Papers 88, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW).
    4. 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).
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Bianka Dettmer, 2014. "International Service Transactions: Is Time a Trade Barrier in a Connected World?," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, pages 225-254.
    8. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    veil of ignorance; impartial behavior; distributive justice; procedural fairness;

    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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