Kristoffer Balle Hvidberg, Claus Thustrup Kreiner, Stefanie Stantcheva, 16 December 2020

How individuals understand their own social position – and how that understanding shapes their stance on inequality more broadly – are questions of longstanding concern to social scientists. This column uses a unique combination of data to address these questions, linking a large-scale Danish survey that elicited perceptions of income and fairness to detailed administrative data on true income positions and life histories. It finds that individuals are well informed about their own social positions, and that their beliefs about fairness and unequal outcomes correlate more closely to that position than their political views do.

Giulia Giupponi, Stephen Machin, 11 August 2018

In 2016 the National Living Wage in the UK raised the minimum hourly wage for workers aged 25 and over. The column uses data from English care homes to analyse the impact of this policy, finding that the main non-wage effect has been a deterioration in quality of care. Younger colleagues also received wage rises, which seems to reflect a preference for fairness among employers.

Matthias Heinz, Sabrina Jeworrek, Vanessa Mertins, Heiner Schumacher, Matthias Sutter, 15 December 2017

Any organisation that needs to restructure, cut wages, or make layoffs needs to know how the employees who are not affected will respond. This column presents a field experiment which revealed that the perception that employers are unfair – in this case, as a result of layoffs – reduces the performance of employees who have not been not directly affected. As part of the experiment, experienced HR managers were able to successfully anticipate the consequences of unfair employer behaviour on unaffected workers.

Hersh Shefrin, 12 October 2017

Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago has been awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences “for his contributions to behavioural economics”. This column, written by his first behavioural collaborator, provides a personal perspective on the development of three key areas of research to which the new laureate has been a major contributor: people’s limited rationality, their perceptions about fairness, and their lack of self-control.

Alexander Cappelen, Bertil Tungodden, 26 May 2016

What happens in the brain when something is fair or unfair? In this video, Alexander Cappelen and Bertil Tungodden present their research on the effects of fairness on our brains. Using fMRI technology, the neuroeconomics study shows that the brain reacts to unfairness. Income inequalities are perceived as fair if they reflect different work contributions. This video was recorded at the Choice Lab, Norwegian School of Economics, in Bergen.

Valentina Bosetti, Jeffrey Frankel, 24 November 2014

Many countries have announced emissions targets for 2020. To evaluate which countries are doing their fair share, this column proposes a ‘scorecard’ approach based on three principles of fairness in climate change mitigation: latecomer catch-up, progressivity, and cost. The authors find that most countries’ targets, including those of China and the US, are in line with what such a scorecard would suggest.

Armin Falk, 06 February 2009

Armin Falk, director of the Bonn Laboratory of Experimental Economics talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his experimental research on how people compare themselves with others and its impact on their health and wellbeing. The interview was recorded at a workshop on happiness research at the Centre for Economic Performance in London in October 2008.

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