IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

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

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

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:107:y:2013:i:c:p:79-92
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Corneo, Giacomo & Jeanne, Olivier, 2007. "Symbolic values, occupational choice, and economic development," Discussion Papers 2007/2, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  2. Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc, 2009. "Civic Virtue and Labor Market Institutions," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/8812, Sciences Po.
  3. Miles Corak & Patrizio Piraino, 2011. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Employers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 37-68, 01.
  4. Hans Peter Gruner & Giacomo Corneo, 2000. "Social Limits to Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1491-1507, December.
  5. Philip Oreopoulos & Marianne Page & Ann Huff Stevens, 2008. "The Intergenerational Effects of Worker Displacement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 455-483, 07.
  6. Matthias Doepke, . "Occupational Choice and the Spirit of Capitalism," UCLA Economics Online Papers 419, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Bingley, Paul & Corak, Miles & Westergård-Nielsen, Niels C., 2011. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Employers in Canada and Denmark," IZA Discussion Papers 5593, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
  9. Matteo Cervellati & Paolo Vanin, 2010. "”Thou shalt not covet ...”: Prohibitions, Temptation and Moral Values," Working Papers 2010.54, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  10. Jean Tirole & Roland Benabou, 2004. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," 2004 Meeting Papers 15, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  11. Jose V. Rodriguez Mora & John Hassler, 2000. "Intelligence, Social Mobility, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 888-908, September.
  12. Cervellati, Matteo & Esteban, Joan & Kranich, Laurence, 2010. "Work values, endogenous sentiments redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 612-627, October.
  13. Lindbeck, A, 1996. "Incentives and Social Norms in Household Behavior," Papers 622, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  14. Giacomo Corneo, 2012. "Work Norms and the Welfare State," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 58(4), pages 599-625, December.
  15. Corneo, Giacomo, 2013. "Work norms, social insurance and the allocation of talent," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 79-92.
  16. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1991. "The Allocation of Talent: Implications for Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 503-30, May.
  17. Matteo Cervellati & Joan Esteban and Laurence Kranich, 2015. "Work Values, Endogenous Sentiments and Redistribution," Working Papers 434, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  18. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2004. "Fairness and Redistribution," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000283, UCLA Department of Economics.
  19. Lindbeck, Assar & Nyberg, Sten, 2001. "Raising Children To Work Hard: Altruism, Work Norms And Social Insurance," Seminar Papers 691, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  20. Giacomo Corneo & Olivier Jeanne, 2007. "A Theory of Tolerance," CESifo Working Paper Series 1941, CESifo Group Munich.
  21. Lindbeck, Assar & Nyberg, Sten & Weibull, Jörgen W., 1997. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," Working Paper Series 476, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  22. Maria K. Humlum & Kristin J. Kleinjans & Helena S. Nielsen, 2012. "An Economic Analysis Of Identity And Career Choice," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(1), pages 39-61, 01.
  23. Galor, Oded & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1996. "Technological Progress, Mobility, and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1413, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  24. Amelie Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2004. "Occupational Choice across Generations," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 395, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  25. Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1999. "Beyond the Melting Pot : Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," DELTA Working Papers 1999-10, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  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. Jean-Baptiste Michau, 2009. "Unemployment insurance and cultural transmission: theory and application to European unemployment," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 28605, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  29. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2002. "Ability Sorting and the Returns to College Major," Working Papers 02-26, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  30. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:107:y:2013:i:c:p:79-92. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.