Experimental Economics

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 583-610

First online:

Dictator games: a meta study

  • Christoph EngelAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods Email author 

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Over the last 25 years, more than a hundred dictator game experiments have been published. This meta study summarises the evidence. Exploiting the fact that most experiments had to fix parameters they did not intend to test, in multiple regression the meta study is able to assess the effect of single manipulations, controlling for a host of alternative explanatory factors. The resulting rich dataset also provides a testbed for comparing alternative specifications of the statistical model for analysing dictator game data. It shows how Tobit models (assuming that dictators would even want to take money) and hurdle models (assuming that the decision to give a positive amount is separate from the choice of amount, conditional on giving) provide additional insights.


Dictator game Meta-study Multiple regression Tobit Hurdle model

JEL Classification

C24 C91 D03