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Social norms and gift behavior: Theory and evidence from Romania

  • Mitrut, Andreea
  • Nordblom, Katarina

In many developing and transitional countries with limited public income redistribution, inter-household transfers in general, and gifts in particular, are sizable and very important. We use unique Romanian survey data that enables us to isolate pure gifts from other private transfers. We explicitly focus on the importance of community-wide social norms, and find that they indeed play a major role for both the occurrence and the values of gifts. More exactly, our results suggest that the overall predominant gift motive among Romanian households is a norm of reciprocity. Moreover, this norm seems to be dominating for gifts to middle- and high-income households. Even though poor households receive to the same extent, norms of both impure altruism and reciprocity tend to be important. Hence, although the poor may not reciprocate gifts to the same extent as the rich, they still receive, since there is a social norm to give, especially to the poor.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 54 (2010)
Issue (Month): 8 (November)
Pages: 998-1015

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:54:y:2010:i:8:p:998-1015
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer

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