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Who do we tip and why? An empirical investigation

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  • Ofer Azar

Abstract

An important question about social norms is whether they are created to increase welfare. This is addressed by examining the characteristics of tipped and non-tipped occupations. Tipping prevalence is negatively correlated with worker's income and consumer's monitoring ability and positively with consumer's income and closeness between the worker and the consumer. The results refute a common belief that tipping exists to improve economic efficiency by lowering monitoring costs. Tipping, however, is more prevalent when consumers feel empathy and compassion for workers and want to show gratitude for good service, suggesting that tipping might increase welfare if welfare includes psychological utility.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 37 (2005)
Issue (Month): 16 ()
Pages: 1871-1879

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Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:37:y:2005:i:16:p:1871-1879

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References

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  1. Loewenstein, George, 1999. "Because It Is There: The Challenge of Mountaineering . . . for Utility Theory," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(3), pages 315-43.
  2. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
  3. Jacob, Nancy L & Page, Alfred N, 1980. "Production, Information Costs, and Economic Organization: The Buyer Monitoring Case," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 476-78, June.
  4. Ofer H. Azar, 2003. "Optimal Monitoring with External Incentives: The Case of Tipping," Industrial Organization 0312004, EconWPA.
  5. Bodvarsson, Orn B. & Gibson, William A., 1994. "Gratuities and customer appraisal of service: Evidence from Minesota restaurants," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 287-302.
  6. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  7. Azar, Ofer H., 2004. "What sustains social norms and how they evolve?: The case of tipping," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 49-64, May.
  8. Wessels, Walter John, 1997. "Minimum Wages and Tipped Servers," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(2), pages 334-49, April.
  9. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Ofer Azar, 2009. "Incentives and service quality in the restaurant industry: the tipping-service puzzle," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(15), pages 1917-1927.
  2. Azar, Ofer H., 2011. "Business strategy and the social norm of tipping," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 515-525, June.
  3. Bove, Liliana L. & Pervan, Simon J. & Beatty, Sharon E. & Shiu, Edward, 2009. "Service worker role in encouraging customer organizational citizenship behaviors," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 62(7), pages 698-705, July.
  4. Saunders, Stephen G. & Lynn, Michael, 2010. "Why tip? An empirical test of motivations for tipping car guards," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 106-113, February.
  5. Azar, Ofer H., 2006. "Tipping, firm strategy, and industrial organization," MPRA Paper 4485, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Ofer H. Azar, 2005. "The Social Norm of Tipping: Does it Improve Social Welfare?," Others 0503013, EconWPA.
  7. Azar, Ofer H., 2009. "Tipping motivations and behavior in the US and Israel," MPRA Paper 20304, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Ofer H. Azar & Yossi Tobol, 2008. "Tipping as a Strategic Investment in Service Quality: An Optimal-Control Analysis of Repeated Interactions in the Service Industry," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 246-260, July.
  9. Holland, Steven J., 2009. "Tipping as risk sharing," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 641-647, August.

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