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Suspicious success – Cheating, inequality acceptance, and political preferences

Felix Klimm

European Economic Review, 2019, vol. 117, issue C, 36-55

Abstract: Supporters of left-wing parties typically place more emphasis on redistributive policies than right-wing voters. I investigate whether this difference in tolerating inequality is affected by suspicious success – achievements that may arise from cheating. Using a laboratory experiment, I exogenously vary cheating opportunities for stakeholders who work on a real effort task and earn money according to their self-reported performances. An impartial spectator is able to redistribute the earnings between the stakeholders, although it is not possible to detect cheating. I find that the opportunity to cheat leads to different views on whether to accept inequality. Left-wing spectators substantially reduce inequality when cheating is possible, while the treatment has no significant effect on choices of right-wing spectators. Since neither differences in beliefs nor differences in norms about cheating can explain this finding, it seems to be driven by a difference in redistributive preferences. These results suggest that views on redistribution will diverge even more once public awareness increases that inequality may be to a certain extent created by cheating.

Keywords: Cheating; Inequality; Fairness; Political preferences; Redistribution (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D63 D83 H23 H26 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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