Inequality acceptance among children : an empirical analysis of the development of social preferences through childhood and adolescence in China and Norway
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- Master Thesis 
Inequality is a pressing social issue and inequality considerations figure prominently in almost all spheres of society. The general perception of whether an inequality is fair or not, is often related to the source of the inequality. Inequality in cases of differences in productivity may be easier to justify for some, than inequality that is due to luck. Furthermore, people often seek to maximize surplus and as a consequence some may not believe a redistribution can be justified if it is costly (Konow, 2003). This thesis investigates how children manage distributive conflicts between children their own age. Using a real effort dictator game with a spectator design with nearly 1700 children as participants, we compare how children’s inequality acceptance vary with age in two societies characterized by very different levels of income inequality, China (Shanghai) and Norway. The data used in this thesis have been collected as the second part of a project organized by FAIR/The Choice Lab at the Norwegian School of Economics. Based on the data from the experiment there was no evidence to say that there is a systematical difference in inequality acceptance between children in the two countries. Furthermore, we found that merit considerations are equally important in both of the societies, while we found mixed evidence of the importance of efficiency considerations for children in the two societies. Our results indicates that 17-year-old children in both societies accept substantially more inequality compared to 9-year-old children. In both Norway and China, merit and efficiency considerations become more important with age. Additionally, our results show that children in China and Norway have a similar development in their social preferences. Most of the 9-year-old children are categorized as egalitarians, while most of the 17-year-old children have a meritocratic fairness view.