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Property Rights and Fairness: A Tale of Two Koreas


  • Syngjoo Choi


  • Booyuel Kim


  • Jungmin Lee


  • Sokbae Lee


We compare two groups of non-student Korean population?native-born South Koreans (SK) and North Korean refugees (NK)?with contrasting institutional and cultural backgrounds. In our experiment, subjects play dictator games under three di?erent treatments where the source of the income is varied: ?rstly, the income is exogenously given to the subject; secondly, earned by the subject¡¯s own e?ort; thirdly, individually earned by the subject and an anonymous partner and then pooled together. We ?nd that preferences for giving depend on the income source in di?erent ways for the SK and NK subjects. The SK subjects become more sel?sh when an income is individually earned than when it is given exogenously. However, the NK subjects are not responsive to the earned income treatment but behave more pro-socially when individually earned incomes are pooled. The pro-sociality of NK subjects is related to life experiences in North Korea. Our results corroborate the notion that institutions and cultures matter in shaping social norms about distributive fairness.

Suggested Citation

  • Syngjoo Choi & Booyuel Kim & Jungmin Lee & Sokbae Lee, 2018. "Property Rights and Fairness: A Tale of Two Koreas," Working Paper Series no123, Institute of Economic Research, Seoul National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:snu:ioerwp:no123

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    Sel?sh Behavior; Institutions; Division of Korea; Dictator Game; Earnings;

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • P20 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - General

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