Fairness and Accountability: Testing Models of Social Norms in Unequal
We examine behavioural models involved in the provision of public goods when income inequality exists within groups. Our sample consists of individuals from urban and rural South African fishing communities. We find that behaviour observed in unequal groups does not accord with models of inequality aversion or egocentric altruism which require an equal distribution of final payoffs. On the other hand it is also not the case that individuals completely discount differences in initial allocations of wealth, as proposed by our absolute reciprocity model. Instead our empirical results lends support to a reciprocal model which requires that individuals contribute a proportional share of their initial endowments. Accordingly individuals are only partly held responsible for exogenous differences in initial wealth.
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