IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Equality, Equity and Incentives: An Experiment

  • Balafoutas, Loukas
  • Kocher, Martin G.
  • Putterman, Louis
  • Sutter, Matthias

We study a fundamental conflict in economic decision-making, the trade-off between equality, equity and incentives, in a new experimental game that nests a voluntary contributions mechanism in a broader spectrum of incentive schemes. In a 2×2 design, we let subjects either vote on or exogenously encounter incentive settings while assigned unequal endowments are either task-determined or random. We find that earned endowments lead to less support for redistribution and less cooperation. Subjects' voting is influenced by egalitarian and equity concerns, in addition to self-interest. Cooperation rates respond rather continuously to incentives.

To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
1. Check below under "Related research" whether another version of this item is available online.
2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Munich Reprints in Economics with number 18172.

in new window

Date of creation: May 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in European Economic Review 60(2013-05): pp. 32-51
Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:18172
Contact details of provider: Postal: Ludwigstr. 28, 80539 Munich, Germany
Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-3405
Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-3510
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Brosig, Jeannette, 2002. "Identifying cooperative behavior: some experimental results in a prisoner's dilemma game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 275-290, March.
  2. Reuben, Ernesto & Riedl, Arno, 2013. "Enforcement of contribution norms in public good games with heterogeneous populations," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 122-137.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Matthias Sutter & Stefan Haigner & Martin G. Kocher, 2010. "Choosing the Carrot or the Stick? Endogenous Institutional Choice in Social Dilemma Situations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1540-1566.
  5. Todd L. Cherry & Stephan Kroll & Jason F. Shogren, 2003. "The Impact of Endowment Heterogeneity and Origin on Public Good Contributions: Evidence from the Lab," Working Papers 03-05, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  6. Branko Milanovic, 2003. "The median voter hypothesis, income inequality and income," HEW 0305001, EconWPA.
  7. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
  8. Anderson, Simon P. & Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 1998. "A theoretical analysis of altruism and decision error in public goods games," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 297-323, November.
  9. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Why free ride? : Strategies and learning in public goods experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 291-304, December.
  10. Kenneth S. Chan & Stuart Mestelman & Rob Moir & R. Andrew Muller Moir, 1996. "The Voluntary Provision of Public Goods under Varying Income Distributions," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(1), pages 54-69, February.
  11. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Itoh, Hideshi, 1992. "Cooperation in Hierarchical Organizations: An Incentive Perspective," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 321-45, April.
  13. Benabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2004. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," Papers 08-15-2005a, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
  14. Kruse, Douglas L, 1992. "Profit Sharing and Productivity: Microeconomic Evidence from the United States," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(410), pages 24-36, January.
  15. Kenneth S. Chan & Stuart Mestelman & R. Andrew Muller, 1998. "Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," McMaster Experimental Economics Laboratory Publications 1998-02, McMaster University.
  16. Jean-Robert Tyran & Lars P. Feld, 2006. "Achieving Compliance when Legal Sanctions are Non-deterrent," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(1), pages 135-156, 03.
  17. Ruben Durante & Louis Putterman, 2007. "Preferences For Redistribution and Perception of Fairness: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 2007-13, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  18. Yeon-Koo Che & Seung-Weon Yoo, 2001. "Optimal Incentives for Teams," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 525-541, June.
  19. Oliver E. Williamson & Michael L. Wachter & Jeffrey E. Harris, 1975. "Understanding the Employment Relation: The Analysis of Idiosyncratic Exchange," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 6(1), pages 250-278, Spring.
  20. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-95, December.
  21. Pedro Dal Bó & Andrew Foster & Louis Putterman, 2008. "Institutions and Behavior: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Democracy," NBER Working Papers 13999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Walker, James M, et al, 2000. "Collective Choice in the Commons: Experimental Results on Proposed Allocation Rules and Votes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(460), pages 212-34, January.
  23. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 1996. "Bargaining and Distribution in Marriage," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 139-158, Fall.
  24. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter, 2009. "Social Preferences, Beliefs, and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Good Experiments," Discussion Papers 2009-04, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  25. Großer, Jens & Reuben, Ernesto, 2013. "Redistribution and market efficiency: An experimental study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 39-52.
  26. Sadrieh, Abdolkarim & Verbon, Harrie A.A., 2006. "Inequality, cooperation, and growth: An experimental study," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(5), pages 1197-1222, July.
  27. Buckley, Edward & Croson, Rachel, 2006. "Income and wealth heterogeneity in the voluntary provision of linear public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 935-955, May.
  28. Putterman, Louis & Tyran, Jean-Robert & Kamei, Kenju, 2011. "Public goods and voting on formal sanction schemes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9-10), pages 1213-1222, October.
  29. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  30. Kenju Kamei & Louis Putterman & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2011. "State or Nature? Formal vs. Informal Sanctioning in the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Discussion Papers 11-05, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  31. Wolfgang Höchtl & Rupert Sausgruber & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2011. "Inequality Aversion and Voting on Redistribution," Discussion Papers 11-18, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  32. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
  33. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/eu4vqp9ompqllr09iatskih21 is not listed on IDEAS
  34. Jennifer Zelmer, 2003. "Linear Public Goods Experiments: A Meta-Analysis," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 299-310, November.
  35. Brandts, Jordi & Schram, Arthur, 2001. "Cooperation and noise in public goods experiments: applying the contribution function approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 399-427, February.
  36. Jean-Robert Tyran & Thomas Markussen & Louis Putterman, 2011. "Self-Organization for Collective Action: An Experimental Study of Voting on Formal, Informal, and No Sanction Regimes," Vienna Economics Papers 1103, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
  37. Kenneth Chan & Stuart Mestelman & Robert Moir & R. Muller, 1999. "Heterogeneity and the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 5-30, August.
  38. Simon G�chter & Arno Riedl, 2003. "Moral Property Rights in Bargaining with Infeasible Claims," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 03-055/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  39. Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala & Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2005. "Are People Inequality-Averse, or Just Risk-Averse?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(3), pages 375-396, 08.
  40. Magdalena Margreiter & Matthias Sutter & Dennis Dittrich, 2005. "Individual and Collective Choice and Voting in Common Pool Resource Problem with Heterogeneous Actors," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 32(2), pages 241-271, October.
  41. Angeletos, George-Marios & Alesina, Alberto, 2005. "Fairness and Redistribution," Scholarly Articles 4553009, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  42. Jean-Robert Tyran & Rupert Sausgruber, 2002. "A Little Fairness may Induce a Lot of Redistribution in Democracy," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002 2002-30, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  43. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  44. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1994. "The Firm as an Incentive System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 972-91, September.
  45. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  46. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52, January.
  47. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Group Size Effects in Public Goods Provision: The Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(1), pages 179-99, February.
  48. Piketty, Thomas, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-84, August.
  49. Grossman, Herschel I., 1995. "Robin hood and the redistribution of property income," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 399-410, September.
  50. Baker, G.P. & Jensen, M.C. & Murphy, K.J., 1988. "Compensation And Incentives: Practice Vs. Theory," Papers 88-05, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  51. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  52. Offerman, Theo & Sonnemans, Joep & Schram, Arthur, 1996. "Value Orientations, Expectations and Voluntary Contributions in Public Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(437), pages 817-45, July.
  53. Colin F. Camerer & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "Anomalies: Ultimatums, Dictators and Manners," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 209-219, Spring.
  54. Rachel T. A. Croson, 2007. "Theories Of Commitment, Altruism And Reciprocity: Evidence From Linear Public Goods Games," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(2), pages 199-216, 04.
  55. Burrows, Paul & Loomes, Graham, 1994. "The Impact of Fairness on Bargaining Behaviour," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 201-21.
  56. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala, 2002. "Measuring Future Grandparents" Preferences for Equality and Relative Standing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 362-383, April.
  57. Andereoni, J., 1988. "Why Free Ride? Strategies And Learning In Public Goods Experiments," Working papers 375, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  58. Lucy F. Ackert & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Mark Rider, 2007. "Social Preferences And Tax Policy Design: Some Experimental Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(3), pages 487-501, 07.
  59. Traub, Stefan & Seidl, Christian & Schmidt, Ulrich, 2009. "An experimental study on individual choice, social welfare, and social preferences," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 385-400, May.
  60. David Reinstein & Gerhard Riener, 2012. "Decomposing desert and tangibility effects in a charitable giving experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 229-240, March.
  61. Sen, Amartya, 1997. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292975.
  62. Stefan Grosse & Louis Putterman & Bettina Rockenbach, 2011. "Monitoring In Teams: Using Laboratory Experiments To Study A Theory Of The Firm," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 785-816, 08.
  63. Frans van Dijk & Joep Sonnemans & Frans van Winden, 2000. "Social Ties in a Public Good Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 273, CESifo Group Munich.
  64. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
  65. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
  66. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
  67. John M. Abowd & Michael Bognanno, 1995. "International Differences in Executive and Managerial Compensation," NBER Chapters, in: Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 67-104 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  68. Bhargava, Sandeep, 1994. "Profit-Sharing and the Financial Performance of Companies: Evidence from U.K. Panel Data," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(426), pages 1044-56, September.
  69. Palfrey, Thomas R & Prisbrey, Jeffrey E, 1997. "Anomalous Behavior in Public Goods Experiments: How Much and Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 829-46, December.
  70. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
  71. Irlenbusch, Bernd & Ruchala, Gabriele K., 2008. "Relative rewards within team-based compensation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 141-167, April.
  72. Amiel, Yoram & Creedy, John & Hurn, Stan, 1999. " Measuring Attitudes towards Inequality," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(1), pages 83-96, March.
  73. Tatsuyoshi, S. & Nakamura, H., 1995. "The 'Spite' Dilema in Voluntary Contribution Mechanism Experiments," ISER Discussion Paper 0370, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
  74. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1983. "Ranking Income Distributions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 3-17, February.
  75. Fong, Christina, 2001. "Social preferences, self-interest, and the demand for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 225-246, November.
  76. Milanovic, Branko, 2000. "The median-voter hypothesis, income inequality, and income redistribution: an empirical test with the required data," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 367-410, September.
  77. Antonio Cabrales & Rosemarie Nagel & José Rodríguez Mora, 2012. "It is Hobbes, not Rousseau: an experiment on voting and redistribution," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 278-308, June.
  78. Cappelen, Alexander W. & Sørensen, Erik Ø. & Tungodden, Bertil, 2010. "Responsibility for what? Fairness and individual responsibility," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 429-441, April.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:18172. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Tamilla Benkelberg)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.