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Class systems and the enforcement of social norms

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  • Harold L. Cole
  • George J. Mailath
  • Andrew Postlewaite

Abstract

We analyze a model in which there is socially inefficient competition among people. In this model, self-enforcing social norms can potentially control the inefficient competition. However, the inefficient behavior often cannot be suppressed in equilibrium among those with the lowest income due to the ineffectiveness of sanctions against those in the society with the least to lose. We demonstrate that in such cases, it may be possible for society to be divided into distinct classes, with inefficient behavior suppressed in the upper classes but not in the lower.

Suggested Citation

  • Harold L. Cole & George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite, 1996. "Class systems and the enforcement of social norms," Staff Report 213, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:213
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ed Hopkins, 2012. "Job Market Signaling Of Relative Position, Or Becker Married To Spence," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 290-322, April.
    2. Bilancini, Ennio & Boncinelli, Leonardo, 2014. "Instrumental cardinal concerns for social status in two-sided matching with non-transferable utility," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 174-189.
    3. Weiss, Yoram & Fershtman, Chaim, 1998. "Social status and economic performance:: A survey," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 801-820, May.
    4. Thomas Aronsson & Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2013. "Conspicuous Leisure: Optimal Income Taxation When Both Relative Consumption and Relative Leisure Matter," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 115(1), pages 155-175, January.
    5. Nabil I. Al-Najjar, 1998. "A Reputational Model of Authority," Discussion Papers 1223, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    6. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2010. "Which Inequality? The Inequality of Endowments versus the Inequality of Rewards," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 106-137, August.
    7. Fabio Maccheroni & Massimo Marinacci & Aldo Rustichini, 2012. "Social Decision Theory: Choosing within and between Groups," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(4), pages 1591-1636.
    8. Jon Reiersen, 2004. "Status and Incentives," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 30, pages 121-128.
    9. Bidner, Chris & Eswaran, Mukesh, 2015. "A gender-based theory of the origin of the caste system of India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 142-158.
    10. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos, 2005. "Grading in Games of Status: Marking Exams and Setting Wages," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1544, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Dec 2005.
    11. Belinda Diaz & Thomas Fent & Alexia Prskawetz & Laura Bernardi, 2011. "Transition to Parenthood: The Role of Social Interaction and Endogenous Networks," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(2), pages 559-579, May.
    12. Pierre-André Chiappori & Yoram Weiss, 2007. "Divorce, Remarriage, and Child Support," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 37-74.
    13. Perez Truglia, Ricardo Nicolas, 2007. "Conspicuous consumption in the land of Prince Charming," MPRA Paper 22009, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 22 Mar 2010.
    14. Konrad, Kai A., 2007. "Strategy in contests: an introduction
      [Strategie in Turnieren – eine Einführung]
      ," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2007-01, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    15. Bilancini, Ennio & Boncinelli, Leonardo, 2018. "Wage inequality, labor income taxes, and the notion of social status," Economics Discussion Papers 2018-41, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    16. Thomas Aronsson & Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2013. "Veblen’s theory of the leisure class revisited: implications for optimal income taxation," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 41(3), pages 551-578, September.
    17. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2006. "Which Inequality? The Inequality of Resources Versus the Inequality of Rewards," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000621, UCLA Department of Economics.
    18. Fernando Vega Redondo, 1997. "Unfolding social hierarchies in large population games," Working Papers. Serie AD 1997-23, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    19. Hopkins, Ed & Kornienko, Tatiana, 2006. "Inequality and growth in the presence of competition for status," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 291-296, November.
    20. Dubey, Pradeep & Geanakoplos, John, 2010. "Grading exams: 100,99,98,... or A,B,C?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 72-94, May.
    21. Bilancini, Ennio & Boncinelli, Leonardo, 2012. "Redistribution and the notion of social status," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 651-657.
    22. Forest, Adam & Kirchler, Erich, 2010. "Targeting occupations with varying reputations to increase tax revenue," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 400-406, June.
    23. Wen-Chun Chang, 2013. "Climbing up the Social Ladders: Identity, Relative Income, and Subjective Well-being," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 513-535, August.

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    Keywords

    Income distribution ; Wealth;

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