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Is the veil of ignorance only a concept about risk? An experiment

We implement the Rawlsian thought experiment of a veil of ignorance in the laboratory which introduces risk and possibly social preferences. We find that both men and women react to the risk introduced by the veil of ignorance. Only the women additionally exhibit social preferences that reflect an increased concern for equality. Our results for women imply that maximin preferences can also be derived from a combination of some, not necessarily infinite risk aversion and social preferences. This result contrasts the Utilitarians' claim that maximin preferences necessarily represent preferences with infinite risk aversion.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number 1362.

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Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:1362
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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2006. "The Economics of Fairness, Reciprocity and Altruism - Experimental Evidence and New Theories," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
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  6. Carlsson, Fredrik & Daruvala, Dinky & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2001. "Are People Inequality Averse Or Just Risk Averse?," Working Papers in Economics 43, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  7. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
  8. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:1:p:293-312 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Alesina, Alberto F & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2002. "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," CEPR Discussion Papers 3155, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2004. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 857-869, September.
  11. Fehr, Ernst & Naef, Michael & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "The Role of Equality and Efficiency in Social Preferences," CEPR Discussion Papers 5368, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. 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.
  13. Eckel, Catherine C & Grossman, Philip J, 1998. "Are Women Less Selfish Than Men? Evidence from Dictator Experiments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 726-35, May.
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  16. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  17. F. Carlsson & G. Gupta & O. Johansson-Stenman, 2003. "Choosing from behind a veil of ignorance in India," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(13), pages 825-827.
  18. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  19. Jean Tirole & Roland Bénabou, 2006. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1652-1678, December.
  20. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  21. Bolton, Gary E. & Katok, Elena, 1995. "An experimental test for gender differences in beneficent behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(3-4), pages 287-292, June.
  22. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Sex and Risk: Experimental Evidence," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-09, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  23. David Dickinson & J. Tiefenthaler, . "What is fair? Experimental evidence," Working Papers 2000-04, Utah State University, Department of Economics.
  24. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  25. Corneo, Giacomo & Gruner, Hans Peter, 2002. "Individual preferences for political redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 83-107, January.
  26. Fong, Christina, 2001. "Social preferences, self-interest, and the demand for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 225-246, November.
  27. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Differences in the Economic Decisions of Men and Women: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
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  34. repec:lmu:muenar:20652 is not listed on IDEAS
  35. 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.
  36. Magnus Johannesson & Ulf-G Gerdtham, 1995. "A pilot test of using the veil of ignorance approach to estimate a social welfare function for income," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(10), pages 400-402.
  37. John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434.
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