Raymond Fisman

How Did the Great Recession Impact Social Preferences?

Coauthor(s): Pamela Jakiela, Shachar Kariv.


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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 tradeoff s. 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 payoff s 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.

Exact Citation:
Fisman, Raymond, Pamela Jakiela, and Shachar Kariv. "How Did the Great Recession Impact Social Preferences?" Columbia Business School, 2013.
Date: 2013