Nina Weber

Thesis title:

Essays on Procedural Fairness and Distributive Preferences


This dissertation addresses three important questions in relation to the role of procedural fairness in explaining distributive preferences. First, I test, together with Shaun Hargreaves Heap and Konstantinos Matakos, whether distributive choices made in experimental settings in fact reveal underlying social preferences. We find that while social preferences explain distributive choices to an extent, following social norms is a significantly better explanatory factor for these choices, irrespective of the institutional mechanisms used to elicit preferences and perceived social norms. Second, I test whether personal experience with social mobility affects perceptions of procedural fairness in society and, in turn, distributive preferences. The results indicate a divide between people who experienced upward mobility as opposed to downward mobility – experiencing downward mobility increases support for redistribution while experiencing upward mobility does not affect redistributive preferences. I will test the causality of this aggregate finding with an online survey experiment. Third, I test in an interactive online experiment how positive externalities affect procedural fairness perceptions of choices under uncertainty. Starting a business, developing new technologies, or investing into new ventures, are all decisions that involve uncertainty about personal gains and losses, but have potential positive externalities for wider society if successful. How these externalities then affect distributive choices is likely to affect not just the welfare of individuals, it will also create incentives or disincentives for people to subsequently expose themselves to uncertainty for the benefit of wider society.

First supervisor:

Prof. Shaun Hargreaves Heap


13 – Politics, Public Policy, & Governance




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