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Choosing Justice in Experimental Democracies with Production

  • Norman Frohlich (a1) and Joe A. Oppenheimer (a2)


We examine in a laboratory setting how direct participation in choosing a principle of distributive justice and a tax system impinges on subjects' attitudes and subsequent productivity when they participate in a task, produce income, and then experience losses or gains according to the tax system. Experience with a redistributive principle and its associated taxation system in a production environment does not detract from overall acceptance of the distributive principle, particularly for subjects who participate in choosing the principle. Participation in discussion, choice, and production increases subjects' convictions regarding their preferences. For these subjects (especially recipients of transfers) productivity rises significantly over the course of the experiments. No such effect is evident for subjects who do not participate in setting the regime under which they are to labor. The results' implications for questions of democratic participation and the stability of income support programs are drawn.



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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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