The Rise of Merit-based Inequality Acceptance After Exposure to Competition: Experimental Evidence among Chinese University Students
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AbstractThis laboratorystudy examines an individual's acceptance of distributional inequality after exposure to competition and the role of competitive intensity in this relationship among young adults in mainland China. We randomly assigned participants to tournaments with different levels of prize spread and winning selectivity, thereby engendering different levels of competitive intensity. Moreover, the labexperiment measured the participants' preference for inequality in the distribution of tournament awards-what we call merit-based inequality acceptance. We obtained three main results. (1) Exposure to competition increases the level of inequality acceptance, and the effect of such increase tends to be great among strong performers in a tournament. (2) Exposure to competition with large prizes is positively associated with high level of inequality acceptance, whereas the relationship of winning selectivity to inequality acceptance has an inverted U shape. (3) The main source of inequality acceptance is the difference in the payoffs to strong and poor performers in a tournament. Results suggest that increasing competition intensity for economic rewards may have the unintended consequence of enhancing merit-basedinequality acceptance among young Chinese university students.
All Author(s) ListJacqueline C Chen, Tony Tam, Yen-sheng Chiang
Journal nameSocial Indicators Research
Year2019
Month7
Volume Number144
Issue Number2
PublisherSpringer
Pages707 - 728
ISSN0303-8300
LanguagesEnglish-United States

Last updated on 2020-18-11 at 02:05