Spite and development
In a wide variety of settings, spiteful preferences would constitute an obstacle to cooperation, trade, and thus economic development. This paper shows that spiteful preferences - the desire to reduce another's material payoff for the mere purpose of increasing one's relative payoff - are surprisingly widespread in experiments conducted in one of the least developed regions in India (Uttar Pradesh). In a one-shot trust game, the authors find that a large majority of subjects punish cooperative behavior although such punishment clearly increases inequality and decreases the payoffs of both subjects. In experiments to study coordination and to measure social preferences, the findings reveal empirical patterns suggesting that the willingness to reduce another's material payoff - either for the sake of achieving more equality or for the sake of being ahead - is stronger among individuals belonging to high castes than among those belonging to low castes. Because extreme social hierarchies are typically accompanied by a culture that stresses status-seeking, it is plausible that the observed social preference patterns are at least partly shaped by this culture. Thus, an exciting question for future research is the extent to which different institutions and cultures produce preferences that are conducive or detrimental to economic development.
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- Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, .
"A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation,"
IEW - Working Papers
004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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"The demand for punishment,"
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization,
Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 522-542, April.
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"Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence,"
Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
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"Do non-strategic sanctions obey the law of demand? The demand for punishment in the voluntary contribution mechanism,"
Games and Economic Behavior,
Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-24, January.
- 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.
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