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The Social Contract with Endogenous Sentiments

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  • Laurence Kranich
  • Matteo Cervellati
  • Joan Esteban

Abstract

In this paper we present a model of rational voting over redistribution where individual self-esteem and relative esteem for others are endogenously determined. Individuals differ in their productivities, and their behaviour and political views are influenced by moral standards concerning work. Agents determine what they take to be proper behaviour and they judge others, and themselves, accordingly, increasing their esteem (or self-esteem) for those who perform in excess of the standard and decreasing their esteem for those who work less. The desired extent of redistribution depends both on individual income and on individual attitudes toward others. The model has two types of equilibria. In a ¡°cohesive" equilibrium, all individuals conform to the standard of proper behaviour, income inequality is low and social esteem is not biased toward any particular type. Under these conditions equilibrium redistribution increases in response to larger inequality. In a ¡°clustered" equilibrium skilled workers work above the mean while unskilled workers work below. In such an equilibrium, income inequality is large and sentiments are biased in favor of the industrious. As inequality increases, this bias may eventually overtake the egoistic demand for greater taxation and equilibrium redistribution decreases. The type of equilibrium to emerge crucially depends on inequality. We contrast the predictions of the model with data on inequality, redistribution, work values and attitudes toward work and toward the poor for a set of OECD countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Laurence Kranich & Matteo Cervellati & Joan Esteban, 2006. "The Social Contract with Endogenous Sentiments," Discussion Papers 06-06, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:nya:albaec:06-06
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    1. repec:dau:papers:123456789/2574 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Roland Iwan Luttens & Marie-Anne Valfort, 2012. "Voting for Redistribution under Desert-Sensitive Altruism," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(3), pages 881-907, September.
    3. Ernesto Dal Bó & Marko Terviö, 2013. "Self-Esteem, Moral Capital, And Wrongdoing," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 599-663, June.
    4. Miquel Pellicer & Vimal Ranchhod & Mare Sarr & Eva Wegner, 2011. "Inequality Traps in South Africa: An overview and research agenda," SALDRU Working Papers 57, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    5. Benabou, Roland, 2008. "Ideology," IZA Discussion Papers 3416, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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