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Should (and Could) We Ban Prescriptions?

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  • Matteo Richiardi

Abstract

In a simple model of social interaction I analyze the welfare effects of positive (prescriptive) and negative (proscriptive) social norms, together with the private incentives for their enactment. I find that imposing no law is socially optimal when individual actions have no significant externalities, while bans become socially optimal as the externalities increase. Prescriptions are generally the worst choice, but when the externalities involved are very high. However, in the political arena support is rarely won for non intervention or for a ban, since an alternative majority will generally be found in favor of some prescription. This remains true even when strategic voting is considered, and provides an argument for the idea that a liberal state cannot be liberally enforced by rational voters.

Suggested Citation

  • Matteo Richiardi, 2007. "Should (and Could) We Ban Prescriptions?," LABORatorio R. Revelli Working Papers Series 70, LABORatorio R. Revelli, Centre for Employment Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:cca:wplabo:70
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sen, Amartya Kumar, 1970. "The Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal," Scholarly Articles 3612779, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Neugart & Matteo G. Richiardi, 2012. "Agent-based models of the labor market," LABORatorio R. Revelli Working Papers Series 125, LABORatorio R. Revelli, Centre for Employment Studies.
    2. Iori, G. & Porter, J., 2012. "Agent-Based Modelling for Financial Markets," Working Papers 12/08, Department of Economics, City University London.
    3. Flavio Lenz-Cesar & Almas Heshmati, 2010. "Agent-based Simulation of Cooperative Innovation," TEMEP Discussion Papers 201052, Seoul National University; Technology Management, Economics, and Policy Program (TEMEP), revised Jan 2010.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Norms; Bans; Liberalism; Anarchy; Strategic voting.;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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