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When Income Depends on Performance and Luck: The Effects of Culture and Information on Giving

Experimental Economics and Culture

ISBN: 978-1-78743-820-0, eISBN: 978-1-78743-819-4

Publication date: 14 December 2018


We study how giving depends on income and luck, and how culture and information about the determinants of others’ income affect this relationship. Our data come from an experiment conducted in two countries, the USA and Spain – each of which have different beliefs about how income inequality arises. We find that when individuals are informed about the determinants of income, there are no cross-cultural differences in giving. When uninformed, however, Americans give less than the Spanish. This difference persists even after controlling for beliefs, personal characteristics, and values.




We thank Miguel Ballester, Yan Chen, Rachel Croson, Lata Gangadharan, Gianluca Grimalda, Jim Hines, Juyeon Ha, Chris House, Silvana Krasteva, Michal Krawczyk, James Konow, Maciej Kos, Erin Krupka, Yusufcan Masatlioglu, Louis Putterman, Ernesto Reuben, Joel Slemrod, Erik Sorensen, Jeff Smith, and seminar participants at the University of Michigan, University of Texas Dallas, and participants at the International Economic Science Association Conference in Chicago, Political Economy of Conflict Conference in Berlin, Fourth ACCER Workshop in Duisburg, and the 2014 Science of Philanthropy Initiative Annual Conference. Pedro Rey-Biel acknowledges financial support from Ministerio de Economía y Competición (ECO2012-31962). Neslihan Uler thanks the Russell Sage Foundation for financial support. Roman Sheremeta thanks the Economic Science Institute and Chapman University for financial support. Any remaining errors are ours. This study was first published under the title “(Bad) Luck or (Lack of) Effort? Comparing Social Sharing Norms between US and Europe.”


Rey-Biel, P., Sheremeta, R. and Uler, N. (2018), "When Income Depends on Performance and Luck: The Effects of Culture and Information on Giving", Experimental Economics and Culture (Research in Experimental Economics, Vol. 20), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 167-203.



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