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1 Norm enforcement in the city: A natural field experiment

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  • Loukas Balafoutas
  • Nikos Nikiforakis

Abstract

Extensive evidence from laboratory experiments indicates that many individuals are willing to use costly punishment to enforce social norms, even in one-shot interactions. However, there appears to be little evidence in the literature of such behavior in the field. We study the propensity to punish norm violators in a natural field experiment conducted in the main subway station in Athens, Greece. The large number of passengers ensures that strategic motives for punishing are minimized. We study violations of two distinct efficiencyenhancing social norms. In line with laboratory evidence, we find that individuals punish norm violators. However, these individuals are a minority. Men are more likely than women to punish violators, while the decision to punish is unaffected by the violator’s height and gender. Interestingly, we find that violations of the better known of the two norms are substantially less likely to trigger punishment. We present additional evidence from two surveys providing insights into the determinants of norm enforcement.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Natural Field Experiments with number 00385.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00385

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Cited by:
  1. Balafoutas, Loukas & Grechenig, Kristoffel & Nikiforakis, Nikos, 2014. "Third-party punishment and counter-punishment in one-shot interactions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 308-310.
  2. Nikos Nikiforakis & Helen Mitchell, 2013. "Mixing the Carrots with the Sticks : Third Party Punishment and Reward," Working Papers 1338, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  3. Zuzana Berná & Jiøí Špalek, 2012. "The decentralization of punishments in experiments with public goods," Working Papers 05, Masaryk University, Faculty of Economics and Administration, Department of Public Economics, revised Mar 2013.
  4. Boyu Zhang & Cong Li & Hannelore Silva & Peter Bednarik & Karl Sigmund, 2014. "The evolution of sanctioning institutions: an experimental approach to the social contract," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 285-303, June.
  5. Andreoni, James & Gee, Laura K., 2012. "Gun for hire: Delegated enforcement and peer punishment in public goods provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1036-1046.
  6. Nikiforakis, Nikos & Noussair, Charles N. & Wilkening, Tom, 2012. "Normative conflict and feuds: The limits of self-enforcement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 797-807.
  7. Le Zhang & Andreas Ortmann, 2012. "On the Interpretation of Giving, Taking, and Destruction in Dictator Games and Joy-of-Destruction Games," Discussion Papers 2012-50, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  8. Engelmann, Dirk & Nikiforakis, Nikos, 2013. "In the long-run we are all dead: On the benefits of peer punishment in rich environments," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79743, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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