Monday, August 28, 2017

Too Lucky to be True - Fairness Views under the Shadow of Cheating

Bortolotti, Stefania; Soraperra, Ivan; Sutter, Matthias; Zoller, Claudia (2017) : Too Lucky to be True - Fairness Views under the Shadow of Cheating, CESifo Working Paper, No. 6563.

Abstract: The steady increase in inequality over the past decades has revived a lively debate about what can be considered a fair distribution of income. Public support for the extent of redistribution typically depends on the perceived causes of income inequality, such as differences in effort, luck, or opportunities. We study how fairness views and the extent of redistribution are affected by a hitherto overlooked, but relevant factor: immoral self-serving behavior that can lead to increased inequality. We focus on situations in which the rich have potentially acquired their fortunes by means of cheating. In an experiment, we let third parties redistribute resources between two stakeholders who could earn money either by choosing a safe amount or by engaging in a risky, but potentially more profitable, investment. In one treatment, the outcome of the risky investment is determined by a random move, while in another treatment stakeholders can cheat to obtain the more profitable outcome. Although third parties cannot verify cheating, ***we find that the mere suspicion of cheating changes fairness views of third parties considerably and leads to a strong polarization. When cheating opportunities are present, the share of subjects redistributing money from rich to poor stakeholders triples and becomes as large as the fraction of libertarians - i.e., participants who never redistribute***. Without cheating opportunities, libertarian fairness views dominate, while egalitarian views are much less prevalent. These results indicate that fairness views and attitudes towards redistribution change significantly when people believe that income inequality is the result of cheating by the rich.

JEL-Codes: C910, D630, D810, H260.
Keywords: fairness views, redistribution, unethical behavior, inequality, experiment.

Diane Coffey and Dean Spears' Where India Goes --- by Alex Tabarrok

Where India Goes, by Alex Tabarrok on August 28, 2017.

Where India Goes [], a book about the problem of open defecation in India [...] Written by Diane Coffey and Dean Spears [...].

Drawing on the academic literature, Coffey and Spears show that open defecation sickens and kills children, stunts their growth, and lowers their IQ all of which shows up in reduced productivity and wages in adulthood.

The dangers of open defecation are clear. Moreover, Gandhi said that “Sanitation is more important than independence” and Modi said “toilets before temples,” yet in India some half a billion people still do not use latrines. Why not? Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen (2013,, offer a typical explanation:

In 2011 half of all Indian households did not have access to toilets, forcing them to resort to open defecation on a daily basis…

The phrasing presents the issues as one of lack of access that forces people to resort to open defecation. From this perspective the solution seems simple, provide access. After all, if you or I had access to toilets we would use them so if someone else isn’t using toilets it must be because they don’t have access. A bit of thought, however, dispels this notion.


For many people in India, open defecation is preferred to latrine use. The reasons relate to issues of ritual purity and caste. Latrines in or near homes are considered polluting, not in a physical so much as a spiritual or ritual sense. Latrine cleaning is also associated with the Dalit (out)-caste, in itself a polluting category (hence untouchable). That is, the impurity of defecation and caste are mutually reinforcing. As a result, using or, even worse, cleaning latrines is considered a ritual impurity. The problem of open defecation is thus intimately tied up with Hindu notions of purity and caste which many do not want to discuss, let alone condemn.

In the villages the idea of open defecation is also associated with clean air, exercise, and health. Thus, in surveys “both men and women speak openly about the benefits of open defecation and even associate it with health and longevity.” Even many women prefer open defecation if only because it gives them a chance to get out of the house and have some freedom of movement.


More at

Geographic Accessibility Of Food Outlets Not Associated With Body Mass Index Change, 1.7million veterans

Geographic Accessibility Of Food Outlets Not Associated With Body Mass Index Change Among Veterans, 2009–14. Shannon Zenk et al. Health Affairs, August 2017, vol. 36 no. 8 1433-1442,

Abstract: In recent years, various levels of government in the United States have adopted or discussed subsidies, tax breaks, zoning laws, and other public policies that promote geographic access to healthy food. However, there is little evidence from large-scale longitudinal or quasi-experimental research to suggest that the local mix of food outlets actually affects body mass index (BMI). We used a longitudinal design to examine whether the proximity of food outlets, by type, was associated with BMI changes between 2009 and 2014 among 1.7 million veterans in 382 metropolitan areas. We ***found no evidence that either absolute or relative geographic accessibility of supermarkets, fast-food restaurants, or mass merchandisers was associated with changes in an individual’s BMI over time***. While policies that alter only geographic access to food outlets may promote equitable access to healthy food and improve nutrition, our findings suggest they will do little to combat obesity in adults.

Keywords: Determinants Of Health, Environmental Health, Public Health, Health Promotion/Disease Prevention

My commentary: We should stop saying things that we suspected were not true and now we know (1.7 million veterans studied) are not true. Being close to or passing by junk food outlets is not causing obesity...

Crowding increases calorie consumption

The Impact of Crowding on Calorie Consumption. Stefan Hock and Rajesh Bagchi. Journal of Consumer Research,

Abstract: Consumer behavior is often influenced by subtle environmental cues, such as temperature, color, lighting, scent or sound. We explore the effects of a not-so-subtle cue — human crowding — on calorie consumption. Although crowding is an omnipresent factor, it has received little attention in the marketing literature. We present six studies showing that crowding increases calorie consumption. These effects occur because crowding increases distraction, which hampers cognitive thinking and evokes more affective processing. When consumers process information affectively, they consume more calories. We show the specific reason for the increase in calories. When given a choice between several different options, people select and eat higher-calorie items, but when presented with only one option, people eat more of the same food item. We document this process, rule out alternative explanations, and discuss theoretical and managerial implications.

El comportamiento del consumidor es a menudo influenciado por señales ambientales sutiles, tales como temperatura, color, iluminación, olor o sonido. Exploramos los efectos de una no tan sutil señal - el hacinamiento humano - en el consumo de calorías. Aunque el hacinamiento es un factor omnipresente, ha recibido poca atención en la literatura de marketing. Presentamos seis estudios que muestran que el hacinamiento aumenta el consumo de calorías. Estos efectos ocurren debido al hecho de que el pensamiento cognitivo no es el mismo. Cuando los consumidores procesan información de manera afectiva, consumen más calorías. Se muestra la razón específica para el aumento de calorías. Cuando se les da una opción entre varias opciones diferentes, las personas seleccionan y comen artículos de más calorías, pero cuando se les presenta con una sola opción, las personas comen más del mismo alimento. Documentamos este proceso, descartamos las explicaciones alternativas y discutimos las implicaciones teóricas y gerenciales.