Fair Procedures: Evidence from Games Involving Lotteries* 


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    We thank Sally Blount, two anonymous referees, and seminar participants in Ann Arbor, Bielefeld, Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, Magdeburg, New York, Tilburg and Zürich for very helpful comments. We also thank David Rodriguez for help in running the experiments and for skillful research assistance. Bolton gratefully acknowledges the support of the National Science Foundation, Brandts that of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture (SEC-2002-01352) and the Barcelona Economics Programme of CREA, and Ockenfels that of the German DFG. All authors gratefully acknowledge the hospitality of the Making Choices project at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, University of Bielefeld, during the summer of 2000.


Procedures are the area where fairness arguably has its largest influence on modern societies. The experiments we report provide an initial characterisation of that influence and suggest new interpretations for some well-known results. We find that procedural fairness is conceptually distinct from allocation fairness, although the evidence also indicates that the two are linked in important ways. Post hoc extension of one of the current models of fairness illustrates this link and implies that a deeper understanding of procedural fairness will require investigation of competing fairness norms.

If a number of persons engage in a series of fair bets, the distribution of cash after the last bet is fair, or at least not unfair, whatever this distribution is. John Rawls (1971)