A Theory of Moral Persistence: Crypto-Morality and Political Legitimacy
Stanford University - Department of Economics; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)
University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
July 11, 2010
Journal of Comparative Economics, Forthcoming
Why, how, and under what conditions do moral beliefs persist despite institutional pressure for change? Why do the powerful often fail to promote the morality of their authority? This paper addresses these questions by presenting the role of crypto-morality in moral persistence. Crypto-morality is the secret adherence to one morality while practicing another in public. A simple overlapping generations model is developed to examine the conditions under which crypto-morality is practiced, decays and influences the direction of moral change. We demonstrate the empirical relevance of crypto-morality by discussing the moral foundations of political legitimacy in various historical episodes.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Keywords: Institutions, Moral beliefs, Crypto-morality, Political Legitimacy, Moral education, China, Islam
JEL Classification: D02, D10, D82, N30, N40, P16
Date posted: July 12, 2010
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