Fairness-Based Altruism

63 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2024

See all articles by Yves Breitmoser

Yves Breitmoser

University of Bielefeld

Pauline Vorjohann

University of Exeter


Why do people give when asked, but prefer not to be asked, and even take when possible? We introduce a novel analytical framework expressing context dependence and narrow bracketing axiomatically. From these behavioral regularities, we derive a utility representation of distributive preferences. Our result characterizes altruism as a concern for the well-being of others captured by prospect-theoretical value functions. The implied reference dependence and non-convexity of preferences predict previously irreconcilable empirical evidence on giving, taking, and sorting. We test the model on data from seminal experiments and observe significantly improved fit in relation to existing models, both in- and out-of-sample.

Keywords: social preferences, axiomatic foundation, robustness, giving, charitable donations

Suggested Citation

Breitmoser, Yves and Vorjohann, Pauline, Fairness-Based Altruism. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4812743 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4812743

Yves Breitmoser

University of Bielefeld ( email )

Pauline Vorjohann (Contact Author)

University of Exeter ( email )

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