Experimental Economics Seminar for November 22

Events, Seminars | November 21, 2013

Join us for the next ICES Experimental Economics Seminar of the semester, featuring Johanna Mollerstrom.

Dr. Mollerstrom, of Harvard University, will discuss her paper Luck, Choice and Responsibility: An Experimental Investigation of What Luck Egalitarianism Gets Wrong (abstract below). The talk will take place on Friday, November 22, from 4:00 to 5:30pm, in room 5183 of the Metropolitan Building, Arlington campus.

Visit the Seminar schedule to access this week’s papers and to learn more about upcoming speakers.


We experimentally study fairness views, focusing on the extent to which agents are held responsible for outcomes influenced by luck. The de­sign allows for the joint presence of two types of luck – option luck and brute luck – which differ with respect to whether the agents can influence their risk exposure. When distributing resources between agents we find, in accordance with ample previous research, that a significant fraction of im­partial spectators behave in accordance with strict egalitarianism (they equalize all inequalities) or libertarianism (they equalize no inequalities). We then test if the spectators whose behavior falls in between these extreme norms can be described as luck egalitarians, i.e. compensating agents for bad outcomes which are due to factors outside the control of the individual but not those due to controllable factors. Despite the intuitive appeal of luck egalitarianism, and contrary to previous research, we find that almost no spectators follow this norm. We instead find that a large fraction of spectators conditions compensation for bad brute luck on the choices the agent made regarding option luck, even though the two types of luck are independent.

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