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Us and Them: Distributional Preferences in Small and Large Groups

  • Schumacher, Heiner
  • Kesternich, Iris
  • Kosfeld, Michael
  • Winter, Joachim

We analyze distributional preferences in games in which a decider chooses the provision of a good that benefits a receiver and creates costs for a group of payers. The average decider takes into account the welfare of all parties and has concerns for efficiency. However, she attaches similar weights to small and large groups so that she neglects large provision costs that are dispersed among many payers. This holds regardless of whether the decider benefits from the provision or not. A CES utility function which rationalizes average behavior implies altruism in bilateral situations and welfare-damaging actions when costs are dispersed.

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Paper provided by Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich in its series Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems with number 453.

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Date of creation: 17 Jan 2014
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Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:453
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  1. Amy Finkelstein, 2007. "The Aggregate Effects of Health Insurance: Evidence from the Introduction of Medicare," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 1-37, 02.
  2. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  3. John List & Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2012. "Testing for altruism and social pressure in charitable giving," Natural Field Experiments 00137, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. Marc Fleurbaey & Bertil Tungodden, 2010. "The tyranny of non-aggregation versus the tyranny of aggregation in social choices: a real dilemma," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 399-414, September.
  5. Andreoni, James & Vesterlund, Lise, 2001. "Which is the Fair Sex? Gender Differences in Altruism," Staff General Research Papers 1951, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  6. 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.
  7. Imran Rasul & Iwan Barankay & Orana Bandiera, 2005. "Social preferences and the response to incentives: Evidence from personnel data," Natural Field Experiments 00212, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. Maurus Rischatsch & Maria Trottmann & Peter Zweifel, 2013. "Generic substitution, financial interests, and imperfect agency," International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 115-138, June.
  9. repec:feb:framed:0087 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. 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.
  11. Fehr, Ernst & Naef, Michael & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2006. "Inequality aversion, efficiency, and maximin preferences in simple distribution experiments: Comment," Munich Reprints in Economics 20639, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  12. Andreoni, James, 2007. "Giving gifts to groups: How altruism depends on the number of recipients," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(9), pages 1731-1749, September.
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