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Social Norms

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  • H. Peyton Young

Abstract

The function of a social norm is to coordinate people`s expectations in interactions that possess multiple equilibria. Norms govern a wide range of phenomena, including property rights, contracts, bargains, forms of communication, and concepts of justice. Norms impose uniformity of behavior within a given social group, but often vary substantially among groups. Over time norm shifts may occur, prompted either by changes in objective circumstances or by subjective changes in perceptions and expectations. The dynamics of this process can be modeled using evolutionary game theory, which predict that some norms are more stable than others in the long run.

Suggested Citation

  • H. Peyton Young, 2007. "Social Norms," Economics Series Working Papers 307, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:307
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper307.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John C. Harsanyi & Reinhard Selten, 1988. "A General Theory of Equilibrium Selection in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262582384, January.
    2. Young H. P., 1993. "An Evolutionary Model of Bargaining," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 145-168, February.
    3. Robson, Arthur J. & Vega-Redondo, Fernando, 1996. "Efficient Equilibrium Selection in Evolutionary Games with Random Matching," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 65-92, July.
    4. Kandori Michihiro & Rob Rafael, 1995. "Evolution of Equilibria in the Long Run: A General Theory and Applications," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 383-414, April.
    5. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
    6. Blume, Lawrence E., 2003. "How noise matters," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 251-271, August.
    7. Warneryd, Karl, 1994. "Transaction cost, institutions, and evolution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 219-239, October.
    8. Henrich, Joseph & Boyd, Robert & Bowles, Samuel & Camerer, Colin & Fehr, Ernst & Gintis, Herbert (ed.), 2004. "Foundations of Human Sociality: Economic Experiments and Ethnographic Evidence from Fifteen Small-Scale Societies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199262052.
    9. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
    10. H. Peyton Young, 1998. "Conventional Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(4), pages 773-792.
    11. Ken Binmore, 1994. "Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume 1: Playing Fair," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262023636, January.
    12. H. Peyton Young & Mary A. Burke, 2001. "Competition and Custom in Economic Contracts: A Case Study of Illinois Agriculture," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 559-573, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Riedel, Nadine & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah, 2013. "Asymmetric obligations," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 67-80.
    2. Adrian Chadi, 2014. "Regional unemployment and norm-induced effects on life satisfaction," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 1111-1141, May.
    3. Tongkui, Yu & Shu-Heng, Chen & Honggang, Li, 2011. "Social Norm, Costly Punishment and the Evolution to Cooperation," MPRA Paper 28741, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Beatrix Eugster & Rafael Lalive & Andreas Steinhauer & Josef Zweimüller, 2011. "The Demand for Social Insurance: Does Culture Matter?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(556), pages 413-448, November.
    5. Adrian Chadi, 2012. "Employed But Still Unhappy? On the Relevance of the Social Work Norm," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 132(1), pages 1-26.
    6. Kallbekken, Steffen & Westskog, Hege & Mideksa, Torben K., 2010. "Appeals to social norms as policy instruments to address consumption externalities," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 447-454, August.
    7. Ritchie, Holly A., 2016. "Unwrapping Institutional Change in Fragile Settings: Women Entrepreneurs Driving Institutional Pathways in Afghanistan," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 39-53.
    8. Roland Olbrich & Martin F. Quaas & Stefan Baumgaertner, 2011. "Personal norms of sustainability and their impact on management – The case of rangeland management in semi-arid regions," Working Paper Series in Economics 209, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
    9. William C. Weld & Roni Michaely & Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2009. "The Nominal Share Price Puzzle," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 121-142, Spring.
    10. Friedrich Heinemann, 2011. "Economic crisis and morale," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 35-49, August.
    11. Strulik, Holger, 2008. "The Role of Poverty and Community Norms in Child Labor and Schooling Decisions," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Zurich 2008 42, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Norms; Institutions; Equilibrium Selection;

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary

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