An Egalitarian Regime Breeds Generosity: The Effect of Endowment Allocation Procedures on Social Preferences
We experimentally investigate the effect of endowment allocation procedures on social preferences using a two-stage dictator game. In the first stage, participants who were randomly selected as allocators had to perform a task in order to earn money. Better performance on the task resulted in higher earnings. In our baseline meritocratic treatment, the allocators' initial endowment was set equal to their individual earnings. We compared this with an egalitarian treatment whereby the allocators' initial endowment was set equal to the average earnings of all allocators. Essentially, high performers were taxed and under performers were subsidized by the high performers. In the second stage, the allocators had to divide their endowment with the recipients. We show that the allocators were more generous in the egalitarian treatment than in the meritocratic treatment. Interestingly, being taxed did not reduce the high performers' generosity but being subsidized did significantly increase the under performers' generosity. Thus, being treated kindly induced the under performers to reciprocate forward to other people.
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