Rotterdam Brown Bag Seminars General Economics

Sander Renes (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Wednesday, 15 March 2017


We elicit distributional fairness ideals of impartial spectators using an incentivized economic experiment in a representative sample of the German population. Our dataset allows us to relate our experimental data on fairness ideals to a large range of socio-demographic characteristics, political preferences and revealed charitable behavior. We document several empirical facts: i) egalitarians are the predominant type, even though egalitarian allocations are Pareto-dominated by maxi-min allocations; ii) females are more egalitarian than men; iii) men are relatively more efficiency-minded; iv) maxi-max preferences are empirically irrelevant; v) left-leaning voters are more likely to be egalitarians whereas right-leaning voters are more likely to be efficiency-minded; and vi) young and highly-educated participants hold different fairness ideals than the rest of the population. Moreover, we show that the experimentally elicited fairness types predict preferences for redistribution and social spending. We also find that egalitarians are more likely to donate to charity than efficiency-minded people, even after controlling for a range of covariates. Hence, our paper also contributes to the emerging literature examining how experimental measures relate to real world behavior, and test the external validity of laboratory experiments on fairness preferences.