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

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

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.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5040.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2009
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5040
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  1. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jšrgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms And Economic Incentives In The Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35, February.
  2. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2010. "History Institutions and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," Working Papers id:2811, eSocialSciences.
  3. Lorenz Goette & David Huffman & Stephan Meier, 2006. "The impact of group membership on cooperation and norm enforcement: evidence using random assignment to real social groups," Working Papers 06-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  4. Trevon Logan & Manisha Shah, 2009. "Face Value: Information and Signaling in an Illegal Market," NBER Working Papers 14841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Basu, Kaushik, 2003. "Prelude to Political Economy: A Study of the Social and Political Foundations of Economics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199261857, March.
  6. Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Matthews, Peter Hans, 2005. "Norm Enforcement: Anger, Indignation or Reciprocity?," IZA Discussion Papers 1583, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Rao, Vijayendra, 2005. "Symbolic public goods and the coordination of collective action : a comparison of local development in India and Indonesia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3685, The World Bank.
  8. Kocher, Martin G. & Cherry, Todd & Kroll, Stephan & Netzer, Robert J. & Sutter, Matthias, 2008. "Conditional cooperation on three continents," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 175-178, December.
  9. Elinor Ostrom, 2000. "Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 137-158, Summer.
  10. Joseph Henrich & Robert Boyd & Samuel Bowles & Colin Camerer & Ernst Fehr & Herbert Gintis & Richard McElreath, 2001. "Cooperation, Reciprocity and Punishment in Fifteen Small-scale Societies," Working Papers 01-01-007, Santa Fe Institute.
  11. Ernst Fehr & Karla Hoff & Mayuresh Kshetramade, 2008. "Spite and Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 494-99, May.
  12. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, . "Third Party Punishment and Social Norms," IEW - Working Papers 106, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  13. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
  14. Matthias Cinyabuguma & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2006. "Can second-order punishment deter perverse punishment?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 265-279, September.
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