Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Paper Series in Economics,
Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics

No 6/2014: Luck, Choice and Responsibility. An experimental study of fairness views.

Johanna Möllerström (), Bjørn-Atle Reme () and Erik Ø. Sørensen ()
Additional contact information
Johanna Möllerström: Harvard University, Postal: Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, , Harvard University, Cambridge MA , USA
Bjørn-Atle Reme: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: Telenor Research, Oslo and, NHH Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Erik Ø. Sørensen: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH , Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway

Abstract: We conduct a laboratory experiment where third-party spectators can redistribute resources between two agents, thereby offsetting the consequences of controllable and uncontrollable luck. Some spectators go to the limits and equalize all or no inequalities, but many follow an interior allocation rule previously unaccounted for by the fairness views in the literature. These interior allocators regard an agent’s choice as more important than the cause of her low income and do not always compensate bad uncontrollable luck. Instead, they condition such compensation on the agent’s decision regarding controllable luck exposure, even though the two types of luck are independent.

Keywords: Fairness; responsibility; option luck; brute luck; experimen.

JEL-codes: C91; D63; D81; H23

31 pages, March 7, 2014

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