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The Merit Primacy Effect

Alexander Cappelen, Karl Ove Moene (), Siv-Elisabeth Skjelbred () and Bertil Tungodden
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Karl Ove Moene: University of Oslo
Siv-Elisabeth Skjelbred: University of Oslo

No 2017-047, Working Papers from Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group

Abstract: Do people give primacy to merit when luck partly determines earnings? This paper reports from a novel experiment where third-party spectators have to decide whether to redistribute from a high-earner to a low-earner in cases where earnings are determined by luck and merit. Our main finding is that the spectators assign strong primacy to merit in such situations, and as a result violate basic fairness conditions. We believe that the results shed new light on inequality acceptance in society, in particular by showing how just a little bit of merit can make people significantly more inequality accepting.

Keywords: luck; experimental economics; Inequality; fairness (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C93 D31 D63 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-exp and nep-hpe
Note: MIP
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Journal Article: The Merit Primacy Effect (2023) Downloads
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