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Endogenous Indoctrination: Occupational Choice, the Evolution of Beliefs, and the Political Economy of Reform

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  • Saint-Paul, Gilles

Abstract

Much of the political economy analysis of reform focuses on the conflict of interest between groups that stand to gain or lose from the competing policy proposals. In reality, there is also a lot of disagreement about the working of the policy: in addition to conflicting interests, conflicting views play an important role. Those views are shaped in part by an educational bureaucracy. It is documented that the beliefs of that bureaucracy differ substantially from those of the broader constituency. I analyse a model where this effect originates in the self-selection of workers in the educational occupation, and is partly reinforced by the insulation of the educational profession from the real economy (an effect which had been discussed by Hayek). The bias makes it harder for the population to learn the true parameters of the economy if these are favourable to the market economy. Two parameters that govern this capacity to learn are social entropy and heritability. Social entropy defines how predictable one’s occupation is as a function of one’s beliefs. Heritability is the weight of the family’s beliefs in the determination of the priors of a new generation. Both heritability and social entropy reduce the bias and makes it easier to learn that the market economy is "good", under the assumption that it is. Finally I argue that the capacity to learn from experience is itself affected by economic institutions. A society which does not trust markets is more likely to favour labour market rigidities that in turn reduces the exposure of individuals to the market economy, and thus their ability to learn from experience. This in turn reinforces the weight of the educational system in the formation of beliefs, thus validating the initial presumption against the market economy. This sustains an equilibrium where beliefs and institutions reinforce each other in slowing or preventing people from learning the correct underlying parameters.

Suggested Citation

  • Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2009. "Endogenous Indoctrination: Occupational Choice, the Evolution of Beliefs, and the Political Economy of Reform," CEPR Discussion Papers 7335, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7335
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2005. "Preferences for redistribution in the land of opportunities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 897-931, June.
    2. Roland Benabou & Efe A. Ok, 2001. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: The Poum Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 447-487.
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    Cited by:

    1. Vranceanu, Radu & Barthélémy, Jérôme, 2011. "Knowledge in economics and economic reform : An analysis of French survey data," ESSEC Working Papers WP1103, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
    2. Necker, Sarah & Voskort, Andrea, 2014. "Politics and parents — Intergenerational transmission of values after a regime shift," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 177-194.
    3. Friedrich Heinemann & Theocharis Grigoriadis, 2016. "Origins of reform resistance and the Southern European regime," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 43(4), pages 661-691, November.
    4. Alessandro Belmonte & Michael Rochlitz, 2018. "The Political Economy of Collective Memories: Evidence from Russian Politics," HSE Working papers WP BRP 59/PS/2018, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    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. Cassette, Aurélie & Farvaque, Etienne, 2016. "A dirty deed done dirt cheap: Reporting the blame of a national reform on local politicians," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 127-144.
    8. Johannes Binswanger & Manuel Oechslin, 2015. "Disagreement and Learning about Reforms," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0(584), pages 853-886, May.
    9. Anne Boring & Claudine Desrieux & Romain Espinosa, 2018. "Aspiring Top Civil Servants' Distrust in the Private Sector
      [Méfiance envers le secteur privé des aspirants hauts fonctionnaires]
      ," Post-Print halshs-01759358, HAL.
    10. Tilman Klumpp & Xuejuan Su, 2013. "A theory of perceived discrimination," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 53(1), pages 153-180, May.
    11. Fuchs-Schündeln, Nicola & Masella, Paolo, 2013. "Long-Lasting Effects of Socialist Education," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79865, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    12. Senik, Claudia, 2014. "The French unhappiness puzzle: The cultural dimension of happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 379-401.
    13. repec:wfo:wstudy:46881 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Alessandro Belmonte & Michael Rochlitz, 2017. "Collective Memories, Propaganda and Authoritarian Political Support," HSE Working papers WP BRP 43/PS/2017, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    15. repec:rdg:wpaper:em-dp2011-02 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    beliefs; education; educational system; employment protection; ideology; intellectuals; learning; reforms;

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems

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