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Work norms, social insurance and the allocation of talent

  • Corneo, Giacomo

This paper challenges the view that weak work norms make generous welfare states economically unsustainable. I develop a dynamic model of family-transmitted values that has a laissez-faire equilibrium with strong work norms coexisting with a social-insurance equilibrium with weak work norms. While the former has better incentives, the latter induces more intergenerational occupational mobility which improves the allocation of talent and fuels growth. Strong work norms arise as a way for parents to protect their children from the risk of lacking talent. I present evidence from microdata showing that generous social insurance correlates with high intergenerational occupational mobility and that more mobile individuals endorse weaker work norms.

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

Volume (Year): 107 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 79-92

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:107:y:2013:i:c:p:79-92
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  20. Fershtman, Chaim & Murphy, Kevin M & Weiss, Yoram, 1996. "Social Status, Education, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 108-32, February.
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  23. Humlum, Maria Knoth & Kleinjans, Kristin J. & Nielsen, Helena Skyt, 2007. "An Economic Analysis of Identity and Career Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 3120, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  24. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
  25. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jörgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35.
  26. Dolton, P J & Makepeace, G H & Van Der Klaauw, W, 1989. "Occupational Choice and Earnings Determination: The Role of Sample Selection and Non-pecuniary Factors," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(3), pages 573-94, July.
  27. Mark Gradstein, 2009. "Work Attitudes and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 268-288.
  28. Lindbeck, A, 1996. "Incentives and Social Norms in Household Behavior," Papers 622, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  29. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond the Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988.
  30. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg, 2006. "Raising Children to Work Hard: Altruism, Work Norms, and Social Insurance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1473-1503.
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