Luck, Choice and Responsibility – An Experimental Study of Fairness Views

40 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2015

See all articles by Johanna Mollerstrom

Johanna Mollerstrom

George Mason University - Department of Economics; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Bjorn-Atle Reme

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH)

Erik Sorensen

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 14, 2015

Abstract

We conduct laboratory experiments where third-party spectators can redistribute resources between two agents, thereby eliminating inequality and 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. 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. This allocation rule is previously unaccounted for by the fairness views in the literature, and its policy implications are fundamentally different in that it extends individual responsibility for choices made to also apply to areas that were not affected by these choices.

Keywords: inequality, fairness, responsibility, option luck, brute luck, experiment

JEL Classification: C91, D63, D81, H23

Suggested Citation

Mollerstrom, Johanna and Reme, Bjorn-Atle and Sorensen, Erik, Luck, Choice and Responsibility – An Experimental Study of Fairness Views (February 14, 2015). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 15-09, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2565155 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2565155

Johanna Mollerstrom (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/johannamollerstrom/

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Bjorn-Atle Reme

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) ( email )

Helleveien 30
Bergen, NO-5045
Norway

Erik Sorensen

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics ( email )

Helleveien 30
Bergen, NO-5045
Norway

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