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Just Deserts: An Experimental Study of Distributive Justice Norms

John T. Scott, Richard E. Matland, Philip A. Michelbach and Brian H. Bornstein
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 45, No. 4 (Oct., 2001), pp. 749-767
DOI: 10.2307/2669322
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2669322
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Just Deserts: An Experimental Study of Distributive Justice Norms
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Abstract

We present a theoretically informed experimental study of distributive justice norms concerning income distribution. Our study consists of three related experiments that examine how individuals use four distinct allocation principles derived from both normative and empirical research-equality, merit, need, and efficiency-under a condition of impartiality. Our experiments are designed to investigate these principles and to determine how independent factors influence how individuals use them. We find that individuals tend to use all or most of these principles simultaneously in making distributive justice judgments, but that they weigh them differently according to various factors. In particular, we find an expectedly strong difference between how women and men use and weigh these principles. This gender difference parallels-and may even underlie- the gender gap observed in political and policy preferences.

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