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Misperceiving Economic Success: Experimental Evidence on Meritocratic Beliefs and Inequality Acceptance

Dietmar Fehr and Martin Vollmann

No 9983, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo

Abstract: Meritocratic beliefs are often invoked as justification of inequality. We provide evidence on how meritocratic beliefs are shaped by economic status and how they contribute to the moral justification of inequality. In a large-scale survey experiment in the US, we show that success causes a change in beliefs about success depending on effort rather than luck. Exploiting exogenous variation in meritocratic beliefs in a two-stage analysis shows that beliefs affect how much inequality people accept. Successful people prefer to remain ignorant about the true underlying reasons for success and there is no evidence that beliefs are moderated by political orientation.

Keywords: meritocratic beliefs; inequality acceptance; fairness; political views; survey experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C93 D31 D63 H23 H24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-exp and nep-hpe
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (3)

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Working Paper: Misperceiving Economic Success: Experimental Evidence on Meritocratic Beliefs and Inequality Acceptance (2020) Downloads
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