New working paper at HCEO

18 July 2017 11:23

New working paper at HCEO

The Choice Lab working paper “The Merit Primacy Effect” has been published as working paper at HCEO.

The paper is written by Alexander Cappelen, Karl Ove Moene, Siv-Elisabeth Skjelbred, Bertil Tungodden.

Full paper 

The Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group (HCEO) at the University of Chicago, headed by Nobel laureate James J. Heckman, is a collaboration of over 400 researchers, educators and policy makers focused on human capital development and its impact on opportunity inequality.

Bertil Tungodden is a member of HCEO’s Inequality: Measurement, Interpretation, and Policy Network, which seeks to enhance the development of the theory and application of policy evaluation for those policies, designed to reduce inequality and boost individual flourishing. Further, this network seeks to enrich theoretical and empirical research by identifying dimensions of analysis that are particularly policy-relevant.

Do people give primacy to merit when luck partly determines earnings? This paper reports from a novel experiment where third-party spectators have to decide whether to redistribute from a high-earner to a low-earner in cases where earnings are determined by luck and merit. Our main finding is that the spectators assign strong primacy to merit in such situations, and as a result violate basic fairness conditions. We believe that the results shed new light on inequality acceptance in society, in particular by showing how just a little bit of merit can make people significantly more inequality accepting.

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