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Inequality Aversion, Self-Interest and Oneness: A Ugandan Lab-in-the-Field Experiment


  • Matthew Robson


Preferences relating to inequality aversion, self-interest and oneness (the closeness of connection to others) are incorporated in a structural model and estimated in order to explain prosocial behaviour. An incentivised lab-in-the-field experiment was run in Mbale, Uganda (n=156), with both general population and student samples. The experiment was a modified three-person dictator game, run on touch-screen tablets. Decision problems were repeated (54 rounds) to ensure individual-level preferences could be estimated; using the Dirichlet distribution to rationalise noisy behaviour. Two within-subject treatments varied if the identity of the ‘recipients’ was anonymous or known. Results find extensive heterogeneity in prosocial behaviour, which is accounted for through individual preference parameters. On average, there is a substantial regard for others with a preference for reducing inequality, rather than increasing efficiency. Oneness is found to have large and significant effects on giving; with distinctions between self-other and between-other trade-offs emerging.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Robson, 2017. "Inequality Aversion, Self-Interest and Oneness: A Ugandan Lab-in-the-Field Experiment," Discussion Papers 17/12, Department of Economics, University of York.
  • Handle: RePEc:yor:yorken:17/12

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    Cited by:

    1. Matthew Robson & John Bone, 2018. "Giving to Varying Numbers of Others," Discussion Papers 18/11, Department of Economics, University of York.

    More about this item


    Distributional Preferences; Prosocial Behaviour; Experimental Economics; Social Distance; Inequality; Altruism; Social Welfare Function.;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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