"How Did the Great Recession Impact Social Preferences?"
Publication type: Working paper
We compare behavior in modified dictators game during the "Great Recession" to behavior in otherwise identical experiments conducted amidst the economic boom that preceded it. The experiments capture both differences in indexical selfishness and differences in equality-efficiency tradeoffs. Subjects exposed to the recession exhibit higher levels of indexical selfishness and greater emphasis on efficiency relative to equality. Reproducing recessionary conditions inside the laboratory by confronting subjects with negative payoffs relative to initial endowments intensifies selfishness and increases the willingness to trade equality for efficiency, though the impact is modest relative to that of the real-world economic downturn.
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