Are peoples’ distributive preferences consistent with their choices over allocations in society? – An experimental test
Nina’s study will experimentally test the consistency of individuals’ preferences for distributive justice with their choices over allocations in society. The importance of such a study is twofold: It is a test of revealed social preference theory and addresses issues of constitutional politics.One of the basic assumptions made by studies in the experimental social sciences is that choices over outcomes reveal preferences. In particular, when subjects in economic experiments act pro-socially it is commonly assumed that these decisions reveal social preferences over principles of morality or justice. A common finding in such experiments is however that individuals’ choices are inconsistent across different decision problems when it is assumed that social preferences revealed in one decision apply to another. Whilst various studies have attempted to explain this inconsistency through combinations of different social preferences which dominate in different decision problems, the basic issue of whether social preferences are in fact revealed by the choices made in experiments persists. This study aims to address this issue by experimentally testing the consistency of individuals’ preferences for distributive justice with their choices over allocations in society.A study of the consistency of social preferences is however not just important for the assumptions of revealed preference theory but also for debates in constitutional politics. Constitutional politics establishes the rules or principles that should guide action in a society. For the stability of constitutional arrangements, it is important that a consistency between expressed preferences over these principles and actual decisions over outcomes exists. If individuals however regularly agree to allocative principles, the practical implementation of which they oppose, then it may create a build-in source of opposition to the constitution.
13 – Politics, Public Policy & Governance