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

  • Heinemann, Friedrich

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.

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Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 07-029.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:5688
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  1. Lindbeck, Assar & Nyberg, Sten, 2001. "Raising Children to Work Hard: Altruism, Work Norms and Social Insurance," Working Paper Series 557, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  2. Lindbeck, Assar, 1995. "Welfare State Disincentives with Endogenous Habits and Norms," Working Paper Series 441, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  3. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jšrgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms And Economic Incentives In The Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35, February.
  4. 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.
  5. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2005. "Ethnic Diversity and Economic Performance," Scholarly Articles 4553005, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Algan, Yann & Cahuc, Pierre, 2006. "Civic Attitudes and the Design of Labour Market Institutions: Which Countries Can Implement the Danish Flexicurity Model?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5489, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Simeon Djankov & Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2003. "The New Comparative Economics," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2002, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Goverment," NBER Working Papers 6727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. James Alm & Benno Torgler, 2004. "Culture Differences and Tax Morale in the United States and in Europe," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-14, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  10. 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 657-83, December.
  11. Alberto Alesina & Arnaud Devleeschauwer & William Easterly & Sergio Kurlat & Romain Wacziarg, 2002. "Fractionalization," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1959, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    • Alberto Alesina & Arnaud Devleeschauwer & William Easterly & Sergio Kurlat & Romain Wacziarg, 2003. "Fractionalization," NBER Working Papers 9411, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Alesina, Alberto & Devleeschauwer, Arnaud & Wacziarg, Romain & Kurlat, Sergio & Easterly, William, 2003. "Fractionalization," Scholarly Articles 4553003, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    • Wacziarg, Romain & Alesina, Alberto & Devleeschauwer, Arnaud & Easterly, William & Kurlat, Sergio, 2002. "Fractionalization," Research Papers 1744, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  12. 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.
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