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Political Self-Serving Bias and Redistribution

Author

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  • Bruno Deffains
  • Romain Espinosa
  • Christian Thoeni

Abstract

We explore the impact of the self-serving bias on the supply and demand for redistribution. We present results from an experiment in which participants decide on redistribution after performing a real effort task. Dependent on individual performance, participants are divided into two groups, successful and unsuccessful. Participants' success is exogenously determined, because they are randomly assigned to either a hard or easy task. However, because participants are not told which task they were assigned to, there is ambiguity as to whether success or failure should be attributed to internal or external factors. Participants take two redistribution decisions. First, they choose a supply of redistribution in a situation where no personal interests are at stake. Second, they choose a redistributive system behind a veil of ignorance. Our results confirm and expand previous findings on the self-serving bias: successful participants are more likely to attribute their success to their effort rather than luck, and they opt for less redistribution. Unsuccessful participants tend to attribute their failure to external factors and opt for more redistribution. We demonstrate that the self-serving bias contributes to a polarization of the views on redistribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno Deffains & Romain Espinosa & Christian Thoeni, 2015. "Political Self-Serving Bias and Redistribution," Discussion Papers 2015-22, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  • Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2015-22
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mario Lackner & Hendrik Sonnabend, 2017. "Coping with advantageous inequity - Field evidence from professional penalty kicking," Economics working papers 2017-21, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    2. Lea Cassar & Arnd H. Klein, 2017. "A Matter of Perspective: How Experience Shapes Preferences for Redistribution," CESifo Working Paper Series 6302, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. repec:eee:joepsy:v:63:y:2017:i:c:p:27-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Sophie Harnay & Elisabeth Tovar, 2017. "Obeying vs. resisting unfair laws. A structural analysis of the internalization of collective preferences on redistribution using classification trees and random forests," EconomiX Working Papers 2017-34, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Redistribution; self-serving bias; experimental; veil of ignorance; polarization;

    JEL classification:

    • K10 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - General (Constitutional Law)
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents

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