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Family Ties and Civic Virtues: Evidence on Wilson's "Moral Sense"


  • Martin Ljunge

    (University of Copenhagen and SITE)


I establish a positive relationship between family ties and civic virtues, as captured by disapproval of tax and benefit cheating, corruption, and a range of other dimensions of exploiting others for personal gain. I find that family ties are a complement to social capital, using within country evidence from 83 nations and data on second generation immigrants in 29 countries with ancestry in 85 nations. Strong families cultivate universalist values and produce more civic and altruistic individuals. The results provide a constructive role for families in promoting family values that support successful societies with a high state and fiscal capacity.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Ljunge, 2012. "Family Ties and Civic Virtues: Evidence on Wilson's "Moral Sense"," Discussion Papers 12-07, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1207

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alberto Alesina & Paola Giuliano, 2010. "The power of the family," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 93-125, June.
    2. Ljunge, Martin, 2012. "Cultural transmission of civicness," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 291-294.
    3. Guido Tabellini, 2010. "Culture and Institutions: Economic Development in the Regions of Europe," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 677-716, June.
    4. Philippe Aghion & Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc & Andrei Shleifer, 2010. "Regulation and Distrust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1015-1049.
    5. Philippe Aghion & Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc, 2011. "Civil Society And The State: The Interplay Between Cooperation And Minimum Wage Regulation," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 3-42, February.
    6. Alberto Alesina & Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc & Paola Giuliano, 2015. "Family Values And The Regulation Of Labor," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 599-630, August.
    7. Pierre Cahuc & Yann Algan, 2009. "Civic Virtue and Labor Market Institutions," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 111-145, January.
    8. Martin Ljunge, 2012. "The Spirit of the Welfare State? Adaptation in the Demand for Social Insurance," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(3), pages 187-223.
    9. Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Monica Singhal, 2011. "Culture, Context, and the Taste for Redistribution," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 157-179, February.
    10. Marianne Bertrand & Antoinette Schoar, 2006. "The Role of Family in Family Firms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 73-96, Spring.
    11. repec:cup:apsrev:v:87:y:1993:i:01:p:1-11_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Martin Ljunge, 2011. "Trust Issues: Evidence from Second Generation Immigrants," Discussion Papers 11-31, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
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    More about this item


    family ties; civic; family values; cultural transmission; altruism;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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