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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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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/28613/
File Function: Open access version.
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 28613.

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Length: 56 pages
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:28613
Contact details of provider: Postal: LSE Library Portugal Street London, WC2A 2HD, U.K.
Phone: +44 (020) 7405 7686
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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  1. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
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  4. Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1999. "Beyond the Melting Pot: Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," Papers 1999-10, Laval - Laboratoire Econometrie.
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