Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Inequality and Riots – Experimental Evidence

Posted: 31 Jan 2011  

Klaus Abbink

University of Amsterdam - Center for Research in Experimental Economics and Political Decision-Making (CREED); Tinbergen Institute - Tinbergen Institute Amsterdam (TIA)

David Masclet

Université de Rennes I; M@rsouin

Daniel Mirza

François Rabelais University

Date Written: January 31, 2011

Abstract

We study the relationship between inequality and inter-groups conflicts (riots), focusing on social inequality. Disadvantaged societal groups experience discrimination and thus have limited access to some social and labour resources like education or employment. First, we experimentally investigate whether social inequality is a driving force of inter-group conflicts. Second, we investigate the factors that make preferences for riot translate into actions. Riots require coordination. Our experiment consists of a two-stage game. First, subjects play a proportional rent-seeking game to share a prize. Social inequality is modeled exogenously by attributing to some subjects (the advantaged group) a larger share of the price than other subjects (the disadvantaged group) for the same amount of effort. In a second stage players can coordinate with the other members of their group to reduce (“burn”) the other group members’ payoff. Treatments differ in the degree of social inequality set between the two groups. We observe frequent social conflicts, where, as expected, disadvantaged groups riot more than advantaged groups. Surprisingly, the frequency of riots decreases with the degree of inequality. A control treatment allows us to identify resignation as the driving force behind this phenomenon.

Keywords: Design of Experiments, Experimental Economics, Social Inequality, Conflicts

JEL Classification: D72, C91

Suggested Citation

Abbink, Klaus and Masclet, David and Mirza, Daniel, Inequality and Riots – Experimental Evidence (January 31, 2011). CIRANO - Scientific Publication No. 2011s-10. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1752258 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1752258

Klaus Abbink

University of Amsterdam - Center for Research in Experimental Economics and Political Decision-Making (CREED) ( email )

Faculty of Economics and Econometrics
Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Tinbergen Institute - Tinbergen Institute Amsterdam (TIA) ( email )

Gustav Mahlerplein 117
Amsterdam, 1082 MS
Netherlands

David Masclet (Contact Author)

Université de Rennes I ( email )

7, Place Hoche
35065 Rennes Cedex, Rennes
France

M@rsouin ( email )

France

Daniel Mirza

François Rabelais University ( email )

60 rue du Plat D'Etain
Tours, 37020
France

Paper statistics

Downloads
252
Rank
101,236
Abstract Views
2,243