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The Role of Equality, Efficiency, and Rawlsian Motives in Social Preferences: A Reply to Engelmann and Strobel


  • Ernst Fehr
  • Klaus M. Schmidt


In a recent paper Engelmann and Strobl claim that a combination of a preference for efficiency and a Rawlsian motive for helping the least well-off is far more important than inequity aversion. Here we show that the relevance of the efficiency motive is largely restricted to students of economics and business administration. Students from other disciplines, adult academics from various disciplines and senior citizens value equality much higher than efficiency. Moreover, there is rather strong evidence that the relevance of the efficiency motive and the Rawlsian motive is largely restricted to non-strategic interactions.

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  • Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, "undated". "The Role of Equality, Efficiency, and Rawlsian Motives in Social Preferences: A Reply to Engelmann and Strobel," IEW - Working Papers 179, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:179

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2006. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1918-1923, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Daruvala, Dinky, 2006. "Would The Right Social Preference Model Please Stand Up!," Working Papers in Economics 210, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    2. Fehr, Ernst & Naef, Michael & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2004. "The Role of Equality and Efficiency in Social Preferences," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 30, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    3. Bruno S. Frey & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, 2007. "Calculating Tragedy: Assessing The Costs Of Terrorism," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 1-24, February.
    4. Bruno Frey, 2005. "‘‘Just forget it.’’ Memory distortions as bounded rationality," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 4(1), pages 13-25, June.
    5. Ingvild Almås & Alexander W. Cappelen & Bertil Tungodden, 2016. "Cutthroat Capitalism versus Cuddly Socialism: Are Americans more Meritocratic and Efficiency-Seeking than Scandinavians?," CESifo Working Paper Series 6278, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item


    Social Preferences; Inequity Aversion; Efficiency preferences; Rawlsian Preferences;

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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