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Economic Development and the Regulation of Morally Contentious Activities

Julio J. Elias, Nicola Lacetera, Mario Macis, Paola Salardi

NBER Working Paper No. 23214
Issued in March 2017
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Health Economics, Law and Economics, Public Economics

The regulation of many activities depends on whether societies consider them morally controversial or “repugnant”. Not only have regulation and related ethical concerns changed over time, but there is also heterogeneity across countries at a given time. We provide evidence of this heterogeneity for three morally contentious activities: abortion, prostitution and gestational surrogacy, and explore the relationship between a country’s economic conditions and how these activities are regulated. We propose a conceptual framework to identify mechanisms that can explain our findings (including the role of non-economic factors), and indicate directions for future research.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23214

Published: Julio J. Elías & Nicola Lacetera & Mario Macis & Paola Salardi, 2017. "Economic Development and the Regulation of Morally Contentious Activities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 76-80, May. citation courtesy of

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