'Thou Shalt Not Covet ...': Prohibitions, Temptation and Moral Values

29 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2010

See all articles by Matteo Cervellati

Matteo Cervellati

University of Bologna - Department of Economics; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); Instituto de Análisis Económic (IAE) Barcelona

Paolo Vanin

University of Bologna - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 7, 2010

Abstract

We propose a theory studying temptation in presence of both externally and internally sanctioned prohibitions. Moral values that (internally) sanction prohibited actions and their desire may increase utility by reducing self-control costs, thereby serving as partial commitment devices. We apply the model to crime and study the conditions under which agents would optimally adhere to moral values of honesty. Incentives to be moral are non- monotonic in the crime premium. Larger external punishments increase temptation and demand for morality, so that external and internal sanctions are complements. The model helps rationalizing stylized facts that proved difficult to explain with available theories.

Keywords: Prohibitions, Temptation, Self-Control, Moral Values, Crime

JEL Classification: D03, K42, Z13

Suggested Citation

Cervellati, Matteo and Vanin, Paolo, 'Thou Shalt Not Covet ...': Prohibitions, Temptation and Moral Values (June 7, 2010). FEEM Working Paper No. 54.2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1621536 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1621536

Matteo Cervellati (Contact Author)

University of Bologna - Department of Economics ( email )

Strada Maggiore 45
Bologna, 40125
Italy
+39-2092605 (Phone)
+39-2092664 (Fax)

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/

Instituto de Análisis Económic (IAE) Barcelona

Barcelona, Bellaterra 08193
Spain

Paolo Vanin

University of Bologna - Department of Economics ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 2
Bologna, BO 40126
Italy
+39-0512098120 (Phone)
+39-0512098040 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/paolovanin/

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