Talk: Jeffrey Butler

Friday, April 12, 2019 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm

402 Cohen Hall

Jeffrey Butler

Assistant Professor

University of California, Merced

Title: Inequality as an Incentive

Abstract:  We study the incentive effects of wage and income inequality in a laboratory experiment. We randomly assign wage levels on a real-effort task.  Across treatments, we exogenously vary information about wage and (experimental) income inequality as well as “work content.” In all treatments, we provide participants with subsequent opportunities to behave pro- or anti-socially. We specifically design all tasks to be ecologically valid. We formulate a novel hypothesis, based on previous research into Just World Beliefs, about how salient inequality interacts with contextual factors to affect subsequent behavior.  We find that behavior and post-experiment survey data are largely consistent with our preferred hypothesis.

Bio: Butler's research interests lie at the intersection of economics, sociology and psychology. His current research investigates the interactions between identity, culture, social environment, preferences and outcomes with a particular focus on how experienced inequality affects beliefs, values, trust, aspirations and behavior.