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Dynamics of Social Norms in the City

  • Fabien Moizeau

    (CREM CNRS UMR 6211, University of Rennes 1, Condorcet Center and Institut Universitaire de France (IUF))

We study how in a city either opposite social norms remain or a particular code of behavior spreads and ultimately prevails. We develop a multicommunity model with overlapping generations. When young, an individual chooses the level of educational effort. The crucial feature is that her decision is influenced by peers living in the area who favor either a social norm valuing education or a social norm discrediting education. When an adult, an individual who cares about her offspring’s expected income chooses the family’s location. Endogenous location leads to different patterns of social norms in the city. We identify two types of urban equilibrium: a culturally-balanced city where social norms are distributed evenly among urban areas and the rate of education is the same in each urban area and a culturally-divided city where urban areas oppose on their prevailing social norm and exhibit different rates of education. We then study the dynamics of social norms. We show that there are multiple long-run patterns of social norms. A particular steady state is achieved depending on the initial distribution of social norms support in the population. Finally, we show that the public policies promoting social integration can lead in the long run to a population unanimously discrediting education and getting less education than letting the culturally-divided city arise.

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Paper provided by Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS in its series Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) with number 201315.

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Date of creation: Apr 2013
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Handle: RePEc:tut:cremwp:201315
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  1. Naylor, Robin, 1987. "Strikes, Free Riders and Social Customs," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 275, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  2. Corneo, Giacomo, 1995. "Social custom, management opposition, and trade union membership," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 275-292, February.
  3. Benabou, Roland, 1993. "Workings of a City: Location, Education, and Production," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 619-52, August.
  4. Harminder Battu & McDonald Mwale & Yves Zenou, 2007. "Oppositional identities and the labor market," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 643-667, July.
  5. 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.
  6. Guido Tabellini, 2007. "The Scope of Cooperation: values and incentives," Working Papers 328, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  7. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2007. "When Are Ghettos Bad? Lessons from Immigrant Segregation in the United States," NBER Working Papers 13082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  9. Benabou, Roland, 1996. "Equity and Efficiency in Human Capital Investment: The Local Connection," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 237-64, April.
  10. Fryer Jr., Roland G. & Torelli, Paul, 2010. "An empirical analysis of 'acting white'," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(5-6), pages 380-396, June.
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