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Is the Welfare State Self-destructive? A Study of Government Benefit Morale

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  • Heinemann, Friedrich

Abstract

Assar Lindbeck has pointed to the problem that generous welfare state institutions may in the long-run undermine those social norms which limit the costs and incentives effects of the welfare state and thus guarantee its viability. This study is the first to assess the empirical validity of Lindbeck?s notion by assessing the long-run link between the welfare state and social norms with regard to the honest take-up of government benefits. Based on the results of four waves of the World Value Surveys the determinants of benefit morale – defined as the reluctance to claim government benefits without legal entitlement – are analysed. Besides a standard list of the respondents? individual characteristics, macroeconomic indicators describing a country?s long-run welfare state and labour market history are included. The results support the empirical validity of Lindbeck?s theory: An increase of government benefits and unemployment is in the long-run associated with deteriorating welfare state ethics.

Suggested Citation

  • Heinemann, Friedrich, 2007. "Is the Welfare State Self-destructive? A Study of Government Benefit Morale," ZEW Discussion Papers 07-029, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:5688
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jörgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35.
    2. Alesina, Alberto & Devleeschauwer, Arnaud & Easterly, William & Kurlat, Sergio & Wacziarg, Romain, 2003. "Fractionalization," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 155-194, June.
    3. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-279, April.
    4. Djankov, Simeon & Glaeser, Edward & La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 2003. "The new comparative economics," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 595-619, December.
    5. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg, 2006. "Raising Children to Work Hard: Altruism, Work Norms, and Social Insurance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1473-1503.
    6. Beck, Thorsten & Clarke, George & Groff, Alberto & Keefer, Philip & Walsh, Patrick, 2000. "New tools and new tests in comparative political economy - the database of political institutions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2283, The World Bank.
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    9. Martin Halla & Friedrich G. Schneider, 2005. "Taxes and Benefits: Two Distinct Options to Cheat on the State?," Economics working papers 2005-05, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    10. Lindbeck, A., 1994. "Welfare State Disincentives with Endogenous Habits and Norms," Papers 589, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
    11. Lindbeck, Assar, 1995. " Welfare State Disincentives with Endogenous Habits and Norms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 477-494, December.
    12. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2003. "Ethnic Diversity and Economic Performance," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2028, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    13. Torgler, Benno, 2002. "Speaking to Theorists and Searching for Facts: Tax Morale and Tax Compliance in Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(5), pages 657-683, December.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    benefit morale; tax morale; welfare state reforms;

    JEL classification:

    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General

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