A Theory of Moral Persistence: Crypto-Morality and Political Legitimacy

31 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2010  

Avner Greif

Stanford University - Department of Economics; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Steven Tadelis

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: July 11, 2010

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Institutions, Moral beliefs, Crypto-morality, Political Legitimacy, Moral education, China, Islam

JEL Classification: D02, D10, D82, N30, N40, P16

Suggested Citation

Greif, Avner and Tadelis, Steven, A Theory of Moral Persistence: Crypto-Morality and Political Legitimacy (July 11, 2010). Journal of Comparative Economics, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1638662 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1638662

Avner Greif (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States
650-725-8936 (Phone)

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) ( email )

180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Steven Tadelis

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

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