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A theory of tolerance

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  • Corneo, Giacomo
  • Jeanne, Olivier

Abstract

We propose a theory of tolerance where endogenous lifestyles and exogenous traits are invested with symbolic value by people. Value systems chosen by parents for their children affect the esteem enjoyed by individuals in society. Intolerant individuals attach all symbolic value to a small number of attributes and are irrespectful of people with different ones. Tolerant people have diversified values and respect social alterity. We study the formation of values attached to various types of attributes and identify circumstances under which tolerance spontaneously arises. Policy may affect the evolution of tolerance in distinctive ways, and there may be efficiency as well as equity reasons to promote tolerance. An empirical investigation of tolerance of homosexuality demonstrates that our theory helps to shed light on survey data of endorsed values.

Suggested Citation

  • Corneo, Giacomo & Jeanne, Olivier, 2009. "A theory of tolerance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(5-6), pages 691-702, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:93:y:2009:i:5-6:p:691-702
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tolerance Value systems Cultural transmission;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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