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Social Norms, the Welfare State, and Voting

  • Lindbeck, Assar

    ()

    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Nyberg, Sten

    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Weibull, Jörgen

    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

This paper analyzes the interplay between economic incentives and social norms in a public finance context. We assume that to live off one's own work is a social norm, and that the larger the population fraction adhering to this norm, the more intensely it is felt by the individual. It is shown that this may give rise to multiple equilibria and to non-linearities that do not arise from economic incentives alone. In the model, individuals also vote on taxes and transfers. Hence, the social norm influences both their economic and political behavior. We show that monotone and continuous changes in external factors may result in non-monotone, and even discontinuous, changes in the political equilibrium.

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Paper provided by Research Institute of Industrial Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 453.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Apr 1996
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0453
Contact details of provider: Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
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  1. Lindbeck, Assar, 1995. "Welfare State Disincentives with Endogenous Habits and Norms," Working Paper Series 441, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  2. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
  3. Akerlof, George A, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of Which Unemployment May be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-75, June.
  4. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
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