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Klimm, Felix (2018): Suspicious Success - Cheating, Inequality Acceptance, and Political Preferences. Collaborative Research Center Transregio 190, Discussion Paper No. 82


Supporters of left-wing parties typically place more emphasis on redistributive policies than right-wing voters. I investigate whether this difference in tolerating inequality is amplified by suspicious success - achievements that may 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, although 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 may be to a certain extent created by cheating.