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Inequality and Inter-group Conflicts – Experimental Evidence

  • Klaus Abbink

    (Department of Economics, Monash University, Clayton, Australia)

  • David Masclet

    (University of Rennes 1, CREM-CNRS, France)

  • Daniel Mirza

    (Université François Rabelais de Tours, France)

In this paper, we study the determinants of inter-groups conflicts, focusing our attention on the role of inequality aversion. First, we experimentally investigate whether inequality is a driving force of inter-group conflicts. Second, we investigate the factors that make preferences for conflict translate into actions. Inter-group conflicts require both coordination and necessary financial material resources. Our experiment consists of a two-stage game. First, subjects play a proportional rent-seeking game to share a prize. In a second stage players can coordinate with the other members of their group to reduce (“burn”) the other group members’ payoff. Treatments differ in the degree of social inequality set between the two groups by attributing to some subjects (the advantaged group) a larger share of the price than other subjects (the disadvantaged group) for the same amount of effort. We observe frequent conflicts, where, as expected, disadvantaged groups “burn” more money than advantaged groups. Surprisingly, however the frequency of conflicts decreases with the degree of inequality. Our data allow us to identify resignation as the driving force behind this phenomenon.

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Paper provided by Condorcet Center for political Economy in its series Economics Working Paper from Condorcet Center for political Economy at CREM-CNRS with number 2012-07-ccr.

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Date of creation: Mar 2012
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Handle: RePEc:tut:cccrwp:2012-07-ccr
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