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Abstract The common distinction between fair inequality based on choices and unfair inequality based on circumstances neglects that choices and circumstances are inherently related: Choices typically depend strongly on circumstances. In an experiment with a large representative sample from the US, I study how the effect of circumstances on choices influences redistributive behavior and positive fairness views. I explore and contrast two important mechanisms: inferences about the role of circumstances and redistributive preferences. Meritocracies aspire to reward effort and hard work but promise not to judge individuals by the circumstances they were born into. The choice to work hard is, however, often shaped by circumstances. This study investigates whether people's merit judgments are sensitive to this endogeneity of choice. In a series of incentivized experiments with a large, representative US sample, study participants judge how much money two workers deserve for the effort they exerted. In the treatment condition, unequal circumstances strongly discourage one of the workers from working hard.
Trial End Date September 30, 2021 August 30, 2021
JEL Code(s) D91 C91, D63, D91, H23
Last Published August 13, 2021 11:35 AM September 02, 2021 09:46 AM
Intervention End Date September 30, 2021 August 30, 2021
Keyword(s) Other Behavior, Other
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