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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

Property Rights, Inequality, and Endowments: A variation on the standard dictator game

Status Complete
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 07/01/2008
End Date 06/30/2009
Funding Source Undergraduate Research Grant
Funding Amount
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 06/26/2009 09:47PM
Keywords property rights

People

Faculty
  James Murphy

Student Researchers
  Kelcie Ralph, Mike Redlinger

Abstract

Perceptions of property rights and inequality influence individual preferences for distribution and redistribution of wealth. Experimental economics has used the dictator game to investigate individual reactions to perceived unfairness and property rights. Current research has failed to identify the impact of unequal endowments on participant behavior. This project will remedy this shortcoming by using various unequal endowment treatments to examine behavior. Furthermore, this project expands on the recent work studying taking behavior in an environmental setting. This will determine how different levels of inequality affect dictators’ choices to take earned wealth.

Specific aim: Explore how different levels of inequality affect dictators’ choices. We will test how different levels of inequality affect individual preferences for taking the earned endowments of other subjects. Each pair of subjects will take a quiz of GRE subject test questions, and the subject with the higher score will receive the higher endowment. The lower scoring subject will be Player A, and he or she can then choose how the endowment will actually be allocated. Both subjects will be award that their relative score on the quiz determined whether he or she received the higher endowment, and both will know each subject's quiz score and endowment. We test how varying the inequality of endowments changes Player A's behavior by implementing three endowment splits between Player A and Play B: $0 and $20, $5 and $15, and $9 and $11. Our findings will contribute to a better understanding of how rising inequality impacts individual choices to reallocate earned wealth.

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