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Joseph Schumpeter Lecture Ideology

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  • Roland Bénabou

Abstract

I develop a model of ideologies as collectively sustained (yet individually rational) distortions in beliefs concerning the proper scope of governments versus markets. In processing and interpreting signals of the efficacy of public and market provision of education, health insurance, pensions, etc., individuals optimally trade off the value of remaining hopeful about their future prospects (or their children's) versus the costs of misinformed decisions. Because these future outcomes also depend on whether other citizens respond to unpleasant facts with realism or denial, endogenous social cognitions emerge. Thus, an equilibrium in which people acknowledge the limitations of interventionism coexists with one in which they remain obstinately blind to them, embracing a statist ideology and voting for an excessively large government. Conversely, an equilibrium associated with appropriate public responses to market failures coexists with one dominated by a laissez-faire ideology and blind faith in the invisible hand. With public-sector capital, this interplay of beliefs and institutions leads to history-dependent dynamics. The model also explains why societies find it desirable to set up constitutional protections for dissenting views, even when ex-post everyone would prefer to ignore unwelcome news. (JEL: H11, D72, D83, P16, Z1) (c) 2008 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Roland Bénabou, 2008. "Joseph Schumpeter Lecture Ideology," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 321-352, 04-05.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:6:y:2008:i:2-3:p:321-352
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Di Maggio, Marco, 2009. "Sweet Talk: A Theory of Persuasion," MPRA Paper 18697, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Brigitte Granville & Jaume Martorell Cruz & Martha Prevezer, 2015. "Elites, Thickets and Institutions: French Resistance versus German Adaptation to Economic Change, 1945-2015," Working Papers 63, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.
    3. François Facchini & Mickael Melki, 2014. "Political Ideology And Economic Growth: Evidence From The French Democracy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(4), pages 1408-1426, October.
    4. University of Montreal & Alessandro Riboni, 2009. "Ideology and Endogenous Constitutions," 2009 Meeting Papers 988, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Franck, Raphaël & Johnson, Noel D. & Nye, John V.C., 2014. "From internal taxes to national regulation: Evidence from a French wine tax reform at the turn of the twentieth century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 77-93.
    6. Brigitte Granville & Jaume Martorell Cruz, 2016. "Squared Segmentation: How the Insider/Outsider divide across Public/Private Employment shapes attitudes towards markets," Working Papers 78, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.
    7. Gersbach, Hans & Schneider, Maik T., 2012. "Tax contracts and elections," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(7), pages 1461-1479.
    8. Adriani, Fabrizio & Sonderegger, Silvia, 2009. "Why do parents socialize their children to behave pro-socially? An information-based theory," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(11-12), pages 1119-1124, December.
    9. Gersbach, Hans & Schneider, Maik T., 2012. "Tax contracts, party bargaining, and government formation," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 173-192.
    10. Di Tella, Rafael & Galiani, Sebastian & Schargrodsky, Ernesto, 2012. "Reality versus propaganda in the formation of beliefs about privatization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(5), pages 553-567.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

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