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Caste and punishment : the legacy of caste culture in norm enforcement

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  • Hoff, Karla
  • Kshetramade, Mayuresh
  • Fehr, Ernst

Abstract

Well-functioning groups enforce social norms that restrain opportunism, but the social structure of a society may encourage or inhibit norm enforcement. This paper studies how the exogenous assignment to different positions in an extreme social hierarchy - the caste system - affects individuals'willingness to punish violations of a cooperation norm. Although the analysis controls for individual wealth, education, and political participation, low-caste individuals exhibit a much lower willingness to punish norm violations that hurt members of their own caste, suggesting a cultural difference across caste status in the concern for members of one’s own community. The lower willingness to punish may inhibit the low caste’s ability to sustain collective action and so may contribute to its economic vulnerability.

Suggested Citation

  • Hoff, Karla & Kshetramade, Mayuresh & Fehr, Ernst, 2009. "Caste and punishment : the legacy of caste culture in norm enforcement," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5040, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5040
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gender and Social Development; Corruption&Anitcorruption Law; Anthropology; Access to Finance; Social Inclusion&Institutions;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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