Cooperation Creates Special Moral Obligations

31 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2018

See all articles by Alexander W. Cappelen

Alexander W. Cappelen

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Varun Gauri

World Bank; World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Bertil Tungodden

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 18, 2018

Abstract

A large-scale economic experiment, conducted on a representative sample of the US popula- tion, shows that cooperation creates special moral obligations. Participants in the experiment, acting as impartial spectators, transferred significantly more money to an unlucky worker when two individuals had cooperated than when they had worked independently. We further show that the effect of cooperation is strongly associated with political affiliation, with Democrats attaching significantly more importance to cooperation as a source of moral obligation than Republicans. Our findings shed light on the foundations of redistributive preferences and may contribute to explain the often observed asymmetry in moral concern for different groups of individuals, both nationally and internationally.

Keywords: cooperation, distributive justice, redistribution

Suggested Citation

Cappelen, Alexander W. and Gauri, Varun and Tungodden, Bertil, Cooperation Creates Special Moral Obligations (May 18, 2018). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 7052, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3208602

Alexander W. Cappelen (Contact Author)

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

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Varun Gauri

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/vgauri

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Bertil Tungodden

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

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway

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