Working Paper No. 476

Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State

Published: May 1997Pages: 27Keywords: Welfare Economics; Decision Making; IncentivesJEL-codes: D6; O31; D81

Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State Assar Lindbeck, Sten Nyberg and Jörgen W. Weibull


This paper analyzes the interplay between social norms and economic incentives in the context of work decisions in the modern welfare state. We assume that to live off one's own work is a social norm, and that the larger the population fraction adhering to this norm, the more intensely it is felt by the individual. Individuals face two choices, one economic, whether to work or live off public transfers, and one political, how large the transfer should be. The model highlights certain factors determining the size of the welfare state.

Assar Lindbeck

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Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union in a Changing World Order

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This book explores how the European Union responds to the ongoing challenges to the liberal international order. These challenges arise both within the EU itself and beyond its borders, and put into question the values of free trade and liberal democracy. 

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