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Gypsy law

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  • Peter Leeson

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Abstract

How do the members of societies that can’t use government or simple ostracism produce social order? To investigate this question I use economics to analyze Gypsy law. Gypsy law leverages superstition to enforce desirable conduct in Gypsy societies where government is unavailable and simple ostracism is ineffective. According to Gypsy law, unguarded contact with the lower half of the human body is ritually polluting, ritual defilement is physically contagious, and non-Gypsies are in an extreme state of such defilement. These superstitions repair holes in simple ostracism among Gypsies, enabling them to secure social cooperation without government. Gypsies’ belief system is an efficient institutional response to the constraints they face on their choice of mechanisms of social control. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Leeson, 2013. "Gypsy law," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 155(3), pages 273-292, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:155:y:2013:i:3:p:273-292 DOI: 10.1007/s11127-012-0048-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. William Luther, 2015. "The monetary mechanism of stateless Somalia," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 165(1), pages 45-58, October.
    2. Rustam Romaniuc & Katherine Farrow & Lisette Ibanez & Alain Marciano, 2016. "The perils of government enforcement," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 166(1), pages 161-182, January.
    3. Pavel Ciaian & d'Artis Kancs, 2016. "Causes of the Social and Economic Marginalisation: The Role of Social Mobility Barriers for Roma," EERI Research Paper Series EERI RP 2016/03, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
    4. Marco Faillo & Stefania Ottone & Lorenzo Sacconi, 2015. "The social contract in the laboratory. An experimental analysis of self-enforcing impartial agreements," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 163(3), pages 225-246, June.
    5. Gershman, Boris, 2015. "The economic origins of the evil eye belief," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 119-144.
    6. Leeson, Peter T. & Suarez, Paola A., 2016. "An economic analysis of Magna Carta," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(S), pages 40-46.

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