Meritocracy and Persistent Luck

Last registered on December 03, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Meritocracy and Persistent Luck
Initial registration date
November 29, 2021

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
December 03, 2021, 12:49 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

Central European University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
In a meritocratic society inequality in economic outcomes that reflects differences in individual achievements is considered fair. However, a particular achievement is not equally difficult for everyone. I study two types of differences in difficulties: external circumstances – difficulty of the task an individual faces – and individual ability in the task. In an online experiment, I test how people redistribute income within pairs that was earned by merit with information about how difficult the task was – either in terms of external difficulty or ability in the task – for the members of the pair.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Drucker, Luca Flora. 2021. "Meritocracy and Persistent Luck." AEA RCT Registry. December 03.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
share of tokens from the joint number of tokens of a pair allocated to the initially lower-income participant in the pair
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The experiment has two parts. In the first part, participants earn income by production, and in the second part, they make redistribution decisions over the income earned in pairs. Participants are first assigned into the task length or the ability treatment. In the task length treatment the differences in the difficulties in production come from an exogenously assigned task length, while in the ability treatment participants work on similarly difficult tasks, but they may not be equally good at them. In both treatments participants first have to do 10 tasks, as fast as they can, to measure how fast they can solve the tasks. In the task length treatment this serves as information about the relative difficulties of the different task lengths, and in the ability treatment about the relative abilities of the participants in the task. Then they perform the task for 15 minutes. Their income from the first part will be the number of tasks they solved correctly during the 15 minutes.

The second part is the redistribution part, where participants are randomly assigned into pairs, and decide on how to redistribute the first-part income within their pair as stakeholders or for another pair, as spectators. In both the task lenght and the ability treatments for the decisions participants learn the production levels and the task length or the ability of the two members of the pair.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
by a computer
Randomization Unit
Task length or ability treatment: individual level
Task length within the task length treatment: individual level

Spectator or stakeholder role in the redistribution stage: pair level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
2 treatments: task length and ability
3 task lengths within the task length treatment
2 roles (spectator and stakeholder) in the redistribution decisions within both the task length and the ability treatment.
Sample size: planned number of observations
10 decisions per person: 10*500 = 5000 decisions
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
250 participants in the task length treatment and 250 participants in the ability treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Central European University Ethical Research Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials