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"Thou Shalt Not Covet ...": Prohibitions, Temptation and Moral Values

  • Cervellati, Matteo


    (University of Bologna)

  • Vanin, Paolo


    (University of Bologna)

This paper proposes a theory of the relationship between prohibitions and temptation. In presence of self-control problems, moral values may increase individual material welfare (and utility) by serving as a self-commitment device. The model investigates the relationship between morality and temptation, the individual gains from morality, the interaction between external sanctions and moral self-punishment and the spread and strength of individually optimal moral values. The empirical analysis, based on survey data for a large set of countries, documents a hump-shaped pattern of morality in social class, which supports the theoretical predictions of the model.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7334.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Public Economics, 2013, 103, 15-28
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7334
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