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A Theory of Tolerance

  • Giacomo Corneo
  • Olivier Jeanne

We develop an economic theory of tolerance where lifestyles and traits are invested with symbolic value by people. Value systems are endogenous and taught by parents to their children. In conjunction with actual behavior, value systems determine the esteem enjoyed by individuals. 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 both endogenous and exogenous 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.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2007/wp-cesifo-2007-03/cesifo1_wp1941.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1941.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1941
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  1. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli & Claudia Olivetti, 2004. "Mothers and Sons: Preference Formation and Female Labor Force Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1249-1299, November.
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  5. Corneo, Giacomo & Jeanne, Olivier, 2007. "Symbolic values, occupational choice, and economic development," Discussion Papers 2007/2, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
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  9. Yoram Weiss & Chaim Fershtman, 1997. "Social Status and Economic Performance: A Survey," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 139, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
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  11. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  12. Bisin, Alberto & Verdier, Thierry, 2001. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 298-319, April.
  13. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 2007. "Moral Rules, the Moral Sentiments, and Behavior: Toward a Theory of an Optimal Moral System," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 494-514.
  14. Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "The social basis of interdependent preferences," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 779-800, May.
  15. Frank, Robert H, 1987. "If Homo Economicus Could Choose His Own Utility Function, Would He Want One with a Conscience?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 593-604, September.
  16. Bisin, Alberto & Patacchini, Eleonora & Verdier, Thierry & Zenou, Yves, 2006. "'Bend It Like Beckham': Identity, Socialization and Assimilation," CEPR Discussion Papers 5662, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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