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Social insurance, work norms, and the allocation of talent

  • Corneo, Giacomo

Across countries, generous social insurance comes along with weak work norms. This finding is often taken to mean that in the long run social insurance generates large output losses. But neither individual nor country data corroborates the view that weak work norms worsen economic performance. This paper offers a model of endogenous work norms that rationalizes that evidence. Weak work norms do not harm labor productivity because they are associated with an improved allocation of individual talents to occupations, while strong work norms arise as a defensive strategy of parents aiming at perpetueting their occupation along family lines. Evidence from microdata supports the view that (i) social insurance favors intergenerational occupational mobility and (ii) more mobile individuals endorse weaker work norms.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9028.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9028
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  1. 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.
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  4. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 699-746.
  5. Corneo, Giacomo & Jeanne, Olivier, 2007. "A theory of tolerance," Discussion Papers 2007/13, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  6. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2002. "Ability Sorting and the Returns to College Major," Working Papers 02-26, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  7. Laurence Kranich & Matteo Cervellati & Joan Esteban, 2010. "Work Values, Endogenous Sentiments and Redistribution," Discussion Papers 10-05, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  8. Dolton, P J & Makepeace, G H & Van Der Klaauw, W, 1989. "Occupational Choice and Earnings Determination: The Role of Sample Selection and Non-pecuniary Factors," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(3), pages 573-94, July.
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  10. Hans Peter Gruner & Giacomo Corneo, 2000. "Social Limits to Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1491-1507, December.
  11. Bingley, Paul & Corak, Miles & Westergård-Nielsen, Niels C., 2011. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Employers in Canada and Denmark," IZA Discussion Papers 5593, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1990. "The Allocation of Talent: Implications for Growth," NBER Working Papers 3530, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Giacomo Corneo, 2011. "Work Norms and the Welfare State," CESifo Working Paper Series 3665, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Mark Gradstein, 2009. "Work Attitudes and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 268-288.
  15. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jörgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35.
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  17. Cervellati, Matteo & Esteban, Joan & Kranich, Laurence, 2010. "Work values, endogenous sentiments redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 612-627, October.
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