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Klimm, Felix (10. January 2018): Suspicious Success—Cheating, Inequality Acceptance and Political Preferences. Discussion Papers in Economics 2018-1 [PDF, 379kB]


Supporters of left-wing parties typically put more emphasis on redistributive policies than right-wing voters. I investigate whether this difference in tolerating inequality is amplified by suspicious success — achievements that might arise from cheating. Using a laboratory experiment, I exogenously vary cheating opportunities for stakeholders who work on a real effort task and earn money according to their self-reported performances. An impartial spectator is able to redistribute the earnings between the stakeholders, albeit it is not possible to detect cheating. I find that the opportunity to cheat leads to different views on whether to accept inequality. Left-wing spectators substantially reduce inequality when cheating is possible, while the treatment has no significant effect on choices of right-wing spectators. Since neither differences in beliefs nor differences in norms about cheating can explain this finding, it seems to be driven by a difference in preferences. These results suggest that redistributive preferences will diverge even more once public awareness increases that inequality might be to a certain extent created by cheating.

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