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Social Position and Distributive Justice: Experimental Evidence

Kurtis Swope (), John Cadigan, Pamela Schmitt () and Robert Shupp
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John Cadigan: Department of Economics, Gettysburg College, 300 North Washington Street, Gettysburg, PA 17325, USA

Southern Economic Journal, 2008, vol. 74, issue 3, 811-818

Abstract: Using a simple, double-blind dictator experiment, we examine the extent to which subjects' choices of distributive shares are influenced by unearned social position. We measure social position by the initial distributive shares (resources) and the subjects' ability to determine the final distributive shares (power). We find that subjects' decisions are consistent with Rawls' (1971) hypothesis that individuals expect a greater share when in a position with more power and initial resources. Finally, we test if subjects' choices under a laboratory veil of ignorance are consistent with Rawls' concept of distributive justice. “Veiled” individuals exhibit preferences that are less risk-averse and have greater variance than Rawls hypothesized.

JEL-codes: C91 D31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2008
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