Incentives and Social Norms in Household Behavior
In a broad psychological perspective, both economic incentives and social norms may be be regarded as giving rise to purposesful, or “rational” behavior. By this I simply mean that individuals act in accordance with expected reward or punishment, even though the form these take differs substantially in the two cases. Whereas economic incentives imply “material rewards”, or favors that can be traded for such rewards including leisure, social norms imply “social rewards”. The latter basically take the form of approval or disapproval from others, and related feelings of pride or shame. Moreover, once a social norm has been internalized in an individual’s own value system, behavior in accordance with, or against, the norm will also result in feelings of self-respect or guilt. All this suggests that not only economic incentives but also social norms may be analyzed by means of utility theory, as will be illustrated below. Many social norms may not have much to do with economic incentives (Elster,1989). In some cases, it is, however, useful to study the interaction between them. Indeed, this is the basic message of the paper. My discussion will be limited to three norms of apparent importance for household behavior: (i) work norms; (ii) norms against wage underbidding; and (iii) saving and consumption norms. Thus, the paper deals with norms concerning willingness to work, ability to get a job and the use of income.
|Date of creation:||29 Oct 1997|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden|
Web page: http://www.iies.su.se/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
- Alessie, Rob & Kapteyn, Arie, 1991. "Habit Formation, Interdependent References and Demographic Effects in the Almost Ideal Demand System," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(406), pages 404-19, May.
- Lindbeck, A., 1994.
"Welfare State Disincentives with Endogenous Habits and Norms,"
589, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
- Lindbeck, Assar, 1995. " Welfare State Disincentives with Endogenous Habits and Norms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 477-94, December.
- Lindbeck, Assar, 1995. "Welfare State Disincentives with Endogenous Habits and Norms," Working Paper Series 441, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
- Kapteyn, Arie & Wansbeek, Tom, 1982. "Empirical evidence on preference formation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 137-154, June.
- Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-93, May.
- Pollak, Robert A, 1976. "Interdependent Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(3), pages 309-20, June.
- George A. Akerlof, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of which Unemployment may be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-775.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:iiessp:0622. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Hanna Christiansson)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.