Monday, July 04, 2016

Economic Freeedom and Racism

Tolerance in the United States: Does economic freedom transform racial, religious, political and sexual attitudes?

Niclas Berggren & Therese Nilsson
European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming

Tolerance is a distinguishing feature of Western culture. Still, it varies between and within countries, as well as over time, and irrespective of whether one values it for its own sake or for its beneficial consequences, it becomes important to identify its determinants. In this study, we investigate whether the character of economic policy plays a role, by looking at the effect of changes in economic freedom (i.e., lower government expenditures, lower and more general taxes and more modest regulation) on tolerance in one of the most market-oriented countries, the United States. In comparing U.S. states, we find that an increase in the willingness to let atheists, homosexuals and communists speak, keep books in libraries and teach college students is, overall, positively related to preceding increases in economic freedom, more specifically in the form of more general taxes. We suggest, as one explanation, that a discriminatory tax system, which is susceptible to the influence of special interests and which treats people differently, gives rise to feelings of tension and conflict. In contrast, the positive association for tolerance towards racists only applies to speech and books, not to teaching, which may indicate that when it comes to educating the young, (in)tolerant attitudes towards racists are more fixed.

Nod to Kevin Lewis


gcallah said...

"Tolerance is a distinguishing feature of Western culture. "

As opposed to all those intolerant, non-western jerks!

Mungowitz said...

Um...wait. Intolerance doesn't make someone a jerk. But as a comparison on means, "western" societies have rules that require more toleration of difference than non-western societies. There are exceptions both ways, but that's the nature of comparisons of central tendencies of two distributions.

YOU are going the extra step and equating intolerance with "jerk." Fair enough, if that's really what you want to do.

gcallah said...

I'm just making a little joke: it is kind of funny to see some westerners patting themselves on the back about how tolerant westerners are.