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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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  1. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2005. "Driving Forces Behind Informal Sanctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(6), pages 2017-2030, November.
  2. Klaus Abbink & Silvia Pezzini, 2005. "Determinants of Revolt: Evidence from Survey and Laboratory Data," Discussion Papers 2005-01, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  3. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
  4. Zizzo, D.J. & Oswald, A., 2000. "Are People Willing to Pay to Reduce Others' Incomes?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 568, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  5. Klaus Abbink & Benedikt Herrmann, 2009. "The Moral Costs of Nastiness," Discussion Papers 2009-10, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  6. Klaus Abbink & Jordi Brandts & Benedikt Herrmann & Henrik Orzen, 2010. "Intergroup Conflict and Intra-group Punishment in an Experimental Contest Game," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 420-47, March.
  7. Klaus Abbink & Jordi Brandts, 2007. "Political Autonomy and Independence: Theory and Experimental Evidence," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 689.07, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  8. Cason, Timothy N. & Mui, Vai-Lam, 2006. "Communication and Coordination in the Laboratory Collective Resistance Game," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1197, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  9. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  10. Bochet, Olivier & Page, Talbot & Putterman, Louis, 2006. "Communication and punishment in voluntary contribution experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 11-26, May.
  11. Blattman, Christopher & Miguel, Edward, 2009. "Civil War," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt90n356hs, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  12. Cooper, Russell, et al, 1992. "Communication in Coordination Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 739-71, May.
  13. Klaus Abbink & David Masclet & Matthijs van Veelen, 2009. "Reference point effects in antisocial preferences," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 09-03, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  14. Davis, Douglas D & Reilly, Robert J, 1998. " Do Too Many Cooks Always Spoil the Stew? An Experimental Analysis of Rent-Seeking and the Role of a Strategic Buyer," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1-2), pages 89-115, April.
  15. Zizzo, Daniel John, 2003. "Money burning and rank egalitarianism with random dictators," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 263-266, November.
  16. Clark, Kenneth & Sefton, Martin, 2001. "Repetition and signalling: experimental evidence from games with efficient equilibria," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 357-362, March.
  17. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke & Soderbom, Mans, 2001. "On the duration of civil war," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2681, The World Bank.
  18. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H. & Schulze, William D., 1992. "Why do people pay taxes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 21-38, June.
  19. Louis Putterman & Christopher M. Anderson, 2003. "Do Non-strategic Sanctions Obey the Law of Demand? The Demand for Punishment in the Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Working Papers 2003-15, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  20. Keser, Claudia & Ehrhart, Karl-Martin & Berninghaus, Siegfried K., 1998. "Coordination and local interaction: experimental evidence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 269-275, March.
  21. José Garcia Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2004. "Ethnic polarization, potential conflict and civil wars," Economics Working Papers 770, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Mar 2005.
  22. Burnham, Terence & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L., 2000. "Friend-or-foe intentionality priming in an extensive form trust game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 57-73, September.
  23. Pamela Schmitt & Robert Shupp & Kurtis Swope & John Cadigan, 2004. "Multi-period rent-seeking contests with carryover: Theory and experimental evidence," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 187-211, November.
  24. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-377951 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Abbink, Klaus & Sadrieh, Abdolkarim, 2009. "The pleasure of being nasty," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(3), pages 306-308, December.
  26. Klaus Abbink & Heike Hennig-Schmidt, 2006. "Neutral versus loaded instructions in a bribery experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 103-121, June.
  27. Ernesto Reuben & Frans van Winden, 2006. "Reciprocity and Emotions when Reciprocators Know each other," CESifo Working Paper Series 1674, CESifo Group Munich.
  28. Weimann, Joachim & Yang, Chun-Lei & Vogt, Carsten, 2000. "An experiment on sequential rent-seeking," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 405-426, April.
  29. Duffy, John & Kim, Minseong, 2005. "Anarchy in the laboratory (and the role of the state)," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 297-329, March.
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  31. Robert MacCulloch & Silvia Pezzini, 2007. "Money, religion and revolution," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 1-16, January.
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