Inequality and Visibility of Wealth in Experimental Social Networks. Nishi, A., Shirado, H., Rand, D. G., & Christakis, N. A. Nature, 526:426–429, Nature Publishing Group, 2015.
Inequality and Visibility of Wealth in Experimental Social Networks [link]Paper  Inequality and Visibility of Wealth in Experimental Social Networks [pdf]File  doi  abstract   bibtex   
Humans prefer relatively equal distributions of resources, yet societies have varying degrees of economic inequality6 . To invest- igate some of the possible determinants and consequences of inequality, here we perform experiments involving a networked public goods game inwhich subjects interact and gainor losewealth. Subjects (n=1,462) were randomly assigned to have higher or lower initial endowments, and were embedded within social networks with three levels of economic inequality (Gini coefficient50.0, 0.2, and 0.4). In addition, wemanipulated the visibility ofthe wealth of network neighbours. We show that wealth visibility facilitates the downstream consequences of initial inequality— in initially more unequal situations, wealth visibility leads to greater inequality than when wealth is invisible. This result reflects a heterogeneous response to visibility in richer versus poorer subjects. We also find that making wealth visible has adverse welfare consequences, yield- ing lower levels of overall cooperation, inter-connectedness, and wealth. High initial levels of economic inequality alone, however, have relatively few deleterious welfare effects.

Downloads: 0