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Do Good Laws Make Good Citizens? An Economic Analysis of Internalizing Legal Values

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  • Cooter, Robert

Abstract

How important is the internalization of values by citizens to the effectiveness of the state? Civic acts by citizens help the state to overcome potentially crippling agency problems. Law influences the behavior of citizens through expression, deterrence, and internalization. Distinguishing these effects shows the importance of each, and also shows why the state can express and deter more easily than it can induce citizens to internalize values. In a rational, self-interested theory of the internalization of values, people change their preferences to increase their opportunities for cooperation with others. Since officials have remote relationships with citizens in modern states, the state lacks the information needed to reward virtuous citizens. Instead of promoting civic virtue directly, the state must rely on families, friends, and colleagues to encourage civic virtue. To achieve this goal, the state must first align law with the social norms that facilitate private cooperation.

Suggested Citation

  • Cooter, Robert, 2000. "Do Good Laws Make Good Citizens? An Economic Analysis of Internalizing Legal Values," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt3xr1v1x2, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:oplwec:qt3xr1v1x2
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    Cited by:

    1. Bruno S. Frey, 2003. "Flexible Citizenship for a Global Society," Politics, Philosophy & Economics, , vol. 2(1), pages 93-114, February.
    2. Edward M. Iacobucci, 2014. "On the Interaction between Legal and Reputational Sanctions," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 189-207.
    3. Bruno Deffains & Claude Fluet, 2015. "Social Norms and Legal Design," CIRANO Working Papers 2015s-44, CIRANO.
    4. Blaufus, Kay & Möhlmann, Axel & Schwäbe, Alexander, 2016. "Corporate tax minimization and stock price reactions," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 204, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    5. Blaufus, Kay & Hundsdoerfer, Jochen & Jacob, Martin & Sünwoldt, Matthias, 2016. "Does legality matter? The case of tax avoidance and evasion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 182-206.
    6. Ben Depoorter & Francesco Parisi & Sven Vanneste, 2005. "Problems with the Enforcement of Copyright Law: Is there a Social Norm Backlash?," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 361-369.
    7. Galbiati, Roberto & Vertova, Pietro, 2014. "How laws affect behavior: Obligations, incentives and cooperative behavior," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 48-57.
    8. Bohnet, Iris & Cooter, Robert, 2001. "Expressive Law: Framing or Equilibrium Selection?," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt5h6970h8, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    9. Sophie Harnay & Elisabeth Tovar, 2017. "Obeying vs. resisting unfair laws. A structural analysis of the internalization of collective preferences on redistribution using classification trees and random forests," EconomiX Working Papers 2017-34, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    10. Lora, Eduardo, 2008. "El futuro de los pactos fiscales en América Latina," Coediciones, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), number 1310, May.
    11. Basu,Kaushik, 2015. "The republic of beliefs : a new approach to ?law and economics?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7259, The World Bank.
    12. Yang, Der-Yuan, 2008. "On the elements and practices of monitoring," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 654-666, March.
    13. Carbonara, Emanuela & Pasotti, Piero, 2010. "Social dynamics and minority protection," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 317-328, December.
    14. Lars P. Feld & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2002. "Why People Obey the Law: Experimental Evidence from the Provision of Public Goods," CESifo Working Paper Series 651, CESifo Group Munich.

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