Caste and punishment: the legacy of caste culture in norm enforcement
Well-functioning groups enforce social norms that restrain opportunism, but the social structure of a society may encourage or inhibit norm enforcement. Here we study how the exogenous assignment to different positions in an extreme social hierarchy ï¿½ the caste system ï¿½ affects individualsï¿½ willingness to punish violations of a cooperation norm. Although we control 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 oneï¿½s own community. The lower willingness to punish may inhibit the low casteï¿½s ability to sustain collective action and so may contribute to its economic vulnerability.
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