Working Paper No. 1214

Fairness in Winner-Take-All Markets

Published: May 7, 2018Pages: 32Keywords: Winner-take-all reward structures; Fairness; Income inequalityJEL-codes: C91; D63

Fairness in Winner-Take-All Markets Björn Bartling, Alexander W. Cappelen, Mathias Ekström, Erik Ø. Sørensen and Bertil Tungodden


The paper reports the first experimental study on people’s fairness views on extreme income inequalities arising from winner-take-all reward structures.

We find that the majority of participants consider extreme income inequality generated in winner-take-all situations as fair, independent of the winning margin. Spectators appear to endorse a “factual merit” fairness argument for no redistribution: the winner deserves all the earnings because these earnings were determined by his or her performance.

Our findings shed light on the present political debate on redistribution, by suggesting that people may object less to certain types of extreme income inequality than commonly assumed.

Mathias Ekström

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Interdisciplinary European Studies

Trust in the European Union in Challenging Times

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This is the first book in the Interdisciplinary European Studies collection. This volume provides an interdisciplinary perspective on trust in the EU from the vantage point of political science, law and economics. Lars Oxelheim, Lund University and affiliated to IFN, is one of the authors.

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