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Sorting in experiments with application to social preferences


Lazear, Edward P; Malmendier, Ulrike; Weber, Roberto A (2012). Sorting in experiments with application to social preferences. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 4(1):136-163.

Abstract

Individuals sort into and out of economic environments based on their preferences and in response
to relative prices. We demonstrate the importance of such sorting for the measurement of social
preferences, using two laboratory experiments. First, allowing subjects to avoid environments in
which sharing is possible significantly reduces sharing. This reveals the existence of a type of
individual who shares reluctantly, preferring to avoid the opportunity to share. Second, after
subsidizing the sharing environment, the aggregate amount shared increases, but less is shared, on
average, by those who enter. Thus, subsidies intended to induce more sharing have weak effects
since they attract those who share the least.

Abstract

Individuals sort into and out of economic environments based on their preferences and in response
to relative prices. We demonstrate the importance of such sorting for the measurement of social
preferences, using two laboratory experiments. First, allowing subjects to avoid environments in
which sharing is possible significantly reduces sharing. This reveals the existence of a type of
individual who shares reluctantly, preferring to avoid the opportunity to share. Second, after
subsidizing the sharing environment, the aggregate amount shared increases, but less is shared, on
average, by those who enter. Thus, subsidies intended to induce more sharing have weak effects
since they attract those who share the least.

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67 citations in Web of Science®
72 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:January 2012
Deposited On:14 Mar 2012 10:47
Last Modified:26 Jan 2017 08:51
Publisher:American Economic Association
ISSN:1945-7790
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1257/app.4.1.136
Official URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.1257/app.4.1.136

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