Fairness Through the Lens of Cooperative Game Theory: An Experimental Approach

52 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2013

See all articles by Geoffroy de Clippel

Geoffroy de Clippel

Brown University

Kareen Rozen

Brown University - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 12, 2013


This paper experimentally investigates cooperative game theory from a normative perspective. Subjects designated as Decision Makers express their view on what is fair for others, by recommending a payoff allocation for three subjects (Recipients) whose substitutabilities and complementarities are captured by a characteristic function. We show that axioms and solution concepts from cooperative game theory provide valuable insights into the data. Axiomatic and regression analysis suggest that Decision Makers' choices can be (noisily) described as a convex combination of the Shapley value and equal split solution. A mixture model analysis, examining the distribution of Just Deserts indices describing how far one goes in the direction of the Shapley value, reveals heterogeneity across characteristic functions. Aggregating opinions by averaging, however, shows that the societal view of what is fair remains remarkably consistent across problems. 

Keywords: Cooperative game theory, Fairness, Experiment

JEL Classification: D63, D03, C71, C91

Suggested Citation

de Clippel, Geoffroy and Rozen, Kareen, Fairness Through the Lens of Cooperative Game Theory: An Experimental Approach (November 12, 2013). Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 1925. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2353388 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2353388

Geoffroy De Clippel

Brown University ( email )

Kareen Rozen (Contact Author)

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

64 Waterman Street
Providence, RI 02912
United States

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