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Theory of Values

  • Andreas Georgiadis
  • Alan Manning

Economists have a well-developed theory of value but the theory of why people hold the values they do is rudimentary at best. In spite of the fact that it is common to argue that values are important, most work on values is normative and the positive theory of values is relatively under- developed. In this paper we propose a simple yet general way to think about values - they are about how one trades-off one own's utility against that of others - and argue that we can draw on the large literature on pro-social behavior for hypotheses on how people will choose values. Then, using data from the UK's Citizenship Survey we show how models of self-interest, fairness, reciprocity and identity, can explain many of the patterns that we observe in the data across a wide variety of values.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0943.

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Date of creation: Jul 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0943
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Ken Binmore, 1994. "Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume 1: Playing Fair," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262023636, June.
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  5. Andreas Georgiadis & Alan Manning, 2009. "One Nation Under a Groove? Identity and Multiculturalism in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0944, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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  17. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond the Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988.
  18. Jha, Saumitra, 2008. "Trade, Institutions and Religious Tolerance: Evidence from India," Research Papers 2004, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  19. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
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