Distinguishing Social Preferences from Preferences for Altruism

44 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2005

See all articles by Raymond J. Fisman

Raymond J. Fisman

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Boston University

Shachar Kariv

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics

Daniel Markovits

Yale Law School

Date Written: August 30, 2005

Abstract

We report a laboratory experiment that enables us to distinguish preferences for altruism (concerning tradeoffs between own payoffs and the payoffs of others) from social preferences (concerning tradeoffs between the payoffs of others). By using graphical representations of three-person Dictator Games that vary the relative prices of giving, we generate a very rich data set well suited to studying behavior at the level of the individual subject. We attempt to recover subjects' underlying preferences by estimating a constant elasticity of substitution (CES) model that represents altruistic and social preferences. We find that both social preferences and preferences for altruism are highly heterogeneous, ranging from utilitarian to Rawlsian. In spite of this heterogeneity across subjects, there exists a strong positive within-subject correlation between the efficiency-equity tradeoffs made in altruistic and social preferences.

Keywords: altruism, social preferences, behavioral economics

JEL Classification: C79, C91, D64

Suggested Citation

Fisman, Raymond and Kariv, Shachar and Markovits, Daniel, Distinguishing Social Preferences from Preferences for Altruism (August 30, 2005). ; Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 99. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=795006

Raymond Fisman

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Boston University ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Shachar Kariv

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

Daniel Markovits (Contact Author)

Yale Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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