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Inexpressive Law

  • Emanuela Carbonara

    (University of Bologna)

  • Francesco Parisi

    (University of Minnesota/University of Bologna, Department of Economics)

  • Georg von Wangenheim

    (University of Kassel)

Registered author(s):

    According to expressive law theories, expression of values is an important function played by the law. Expressive laws affect behavior, not by threatening sanctions or promising rewards, but by changing individual preferences and tastes and, in some cases, by affecting social norms and values. New laws, however, can run against sticky social norms, failing to achieve their expressive effects. By developing a dynamic model, in this paper we show that inexpressive laws (laws whose expressive function is undermined by sticky norms) can not only be ineffective but can push the values of society away from those expressed by the law. We study the effects of legal intervention on the values shared by members of society, considering the feedback effects between laws and social norms. Just like expressive laws can foster consensus in heterogeneous groups, inexpressive laws can create a social divide, even in previously homogeneous societies.

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    File URL: http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb02/makro/forschung/magkspapers/10-2010_carbonara.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2010
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung) in its series MAGKS Papers on Economics with number 201010.

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    Length: 29 pages
    Date of creation: 2010
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:mar:magkse:201010
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