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Empirical research on ethical preferences: how popular is prioritarianism?

Erik Schokkaert and Benoît Tarroux ()

No 2104, Working Papers from Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon

Abstract: We survey the empirical literature on ethical preferences, covering both survey studies and incentivized laboratory experiments. Crucial axioms such as the Pigou-Dalton transfer principle are not accepted by a large fraction of the subjects. Moreover, in formulating their distributive preferences subjects attach much importance to the sources of income differences. Their preferences behind a veil of ignorance do not coincide with their preferences in the position of a social planner. These results suggest that prioritarian policy proposals will not necessarily be supported by a majority of the population. Although the majority opinion does not necessarily reflect the ethically desirable perspective, the empirical results still raise some interesting normative challenges.

Keywords: surveys; lab experiments; distributive preferences; prioritarianism; inequality aversion (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D63 D71 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp and nep-hpe
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