Research Seminar Series (RSS)
Do Economists Have a Sense of Justice?
with Guillermina Jasso (New York University)
Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)
Maison des Sciences Humaines
11, Porte des Sciences
L-4366 Esch-sur-Alzette / Belval
conference room, 1st floor
11:00 am
12:30 pm
For inquiries:

Joint seminar LISER - University of Luxembourg

As understanding increases about inequality dynamics, fairness dynamics, and their link, it becomes clear that a central question pertains to the proportions of individuals who do not experience, or exercise, the sense of justice and whether this justice-obliviousness is related to other individual characteristics. One key subset consists of economists, who have argued, as Hayek put it, that “differences in rewards simply cannot meaningfully be described as just or unjust" and for whom the Ideal Economist is said to be justice-oblivious. But are economists really bereft of the sense of justice? This paper uses state-of-the-art models and methods to examine economists’ justice life. The results in this sample are unambiguous: Economists exercise the three fairness faculties – forming ideas of justice, distinguishing between justice and injustice, and distinguishing between unjust underreward and unjust overreward. Moreover, consistent with the Hatfield-Friedman Principle, they disagree with each other on the principles of justice. Thus, far from being justice-oblivious, economists seem no different from everyone else routinely studied in justice research. However, it is possible that when speaking ex cathedra some economists may tend to keep money and markets out of justice reach.

Supported by the National Research Fund (FNR/RESCOM/18/12979972)

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