NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
loading...

When Fair Isn't Fair: Understanding Choice Reversals Involving Social Preferences

James Andreoni, Deniz Aydin, Blake Barton, B. Douglas Bernheim, Jeffrey Naecker

NBER Working Paper No. 25257
Issued in November 2018, Revised in July 2019
NBER Program(s):Public Economics

In settings with uncertainty, tension exists between ex ante and ex post notions of fairness (e.g., equal opportunity versus equal outcomes). In a laboratory experiment, the most common behavioral pattern is for subjects to select the ex ante fair alternative ex ante, and switch to the ex post fair alternative ex post. One potential explanation embraces consequentialism and construes the reversals as manifestations of time inconsistency. Another abandons consequentialism in favor of deontological (rule-based) ethics, and thereby avoids the implication that revisions imply inconsistency. We test between these explanations by examining contingent planning and the demand for commitment. While the population appears to be heterogeneous, our findings suggest that the most common attitude toward fairness involves a time-consistent preference for applying naive deontological rules.

download in pdf format
   (1570 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25257

Published: James Andreoni & Deniz Aydin & Blake Barton & B. Douglas Bernheim & Jeffrey Naecker, 2020. "When Fair Isn’t Fair: Understanding Choice Reversals Involving Social Preferences," Journal of Political Economy, vol 128(5), pages 1673-1711.

 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us