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“Thou shalt not covet”: Prohibitions, temptation and moral values

  • Cervellati, Matteo
  • Vanin, Paolo

This paper proposes a theory of the relationship between prohibitions and temptation. In the presence of self-control problems, moral values may increase individual material welfare (and utility) by serving as a self-commitment device. The model investigates the relationship between morality and temptation, the individual gains from morality, the interaction between external sanctions and moral self-punishment and the spread and strength of individually optimal moral values. The empirical analysis, based on survey data for a large set of countries, documents a hump-shaped pattern of morality in social class, which supports the theoretical predictions of the model.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 103 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 15-28

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:103:y:2013:i:c:p:15-28
DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2013.04.001
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