Unequal opportunity, limited information and meritocracy

Last registered on May 23, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Unequal opportunity, limited information and meritocracy
Initial registration date
May 19, 2022

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
May 23, 2022, 5:20 PM EDT

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


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Primary Investigator

ESCP Business School

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
IESEG School of Management, LEM UMR CNRS 9221

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
A prominent fairness ideal is that of meritocratic fairness, which regards inequality in earnings as fair if they reflect differences in performance, but not otherwise. A complementary fairness view, consistent with meritocratic fairness, is luck egalitarianism, which would equalize earnings for those components of earnings that arise from pure luck, but not necessarily those parts that are determined by actions of individuals. A growing literature (e.g. Konow (2000), Cappelen et al. (2007), Mollerstrom et al. (2015), Almas et al. (2019)) has found support for both meritocratic fairness and luck egalitarianism for significant shares of decision makers in redistribution experiments and surveys. The existing experimental work however typically only considers one source of inequality of earnings, and provides full performance information. The current study is a lab experiment to test fairness preferences when there are multiple sources of inequality of opportunity that may accumulate, and there is limited performance information. We test in particular how accumulation of different sources of inequality of opportunity is taken into account in redistribution decisions, and whether different forms of performance information may lead to a neglect of inequality of opportunity information.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Mimra, Wanda and Vincent Theroude. 2022. "Unequal opportunity, limited information and meritocracy." AEA RCT Registry. May 23. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9471
Experimental Details


We experimentally investigate the role of multiple heterogeneity of earnings sources and limited performance information on redistribution decisions of spectators. Subjects perform real-effort tasks in the beginning and take redistribution decisions as spectators after the work stages. The experimental treatments differ in what information is shown to these spectators about how final earnings are determined, varying whether they observe only earnings, or also performance output and effort input, as well as pair composition. Subsequently to the main experiment, a survey is conducted to elicit beliefs as well as gather data about the decision-makers social and risk preferences, including political preferences and socio-demographics.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Redistribution decisions.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Spectators take redistribution decisions for different pairs that differ in their composition and realized performance.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We plan to use a sample from the Parisian Experimental Economics Laboratory (LEEP) subject pool and run each experimental treatment with 60 subjects. Therefore, we plan to run three sessions with 20 subjects each in every experimental condition. All sessions are run computerized using o-Tree.

Our experiment is structured as follows for all our conditions:
Stage 1: Participants read the part 1 instructions.
Stage 2: Participants answer several control questions to ensure they understood the instructions for part 1.
Stage 3: Participants work on a computerized task.
Stage 4: Participants read the part 2 instructions.
Stage 5: Participants answer several control questions to ensure they understood the instructions for part 2.
Stage 6: Participants work on two computerized tasks.
Stage 7: Participants read the part 3 instructions.
Stage 8: Participants answer several control questions to ensure they understood the instructions for part 3.
Stage 9: Participants take redistribution decisions as spectators.
Stage 10: Participants fill out a questionnaire.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization is carried out in the experiment by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Session and individual
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
11 sessions with 20 participants per session
Sample size: planned number of observations
220 individuals with 14 observations per individual
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
60 individuals per experimental treatment and 40 individuals in two pilot sessions
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Research Ethics Review Committee ESCP Business School
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number