Caste and Punishment: The Legacy of Caste Culture in Norm Enforcement

48 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2009

See all articles by Karla Hoff

Karla Hoff

World Bank - Development Economics Group (DEC); World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Mayuresh Kshetramade

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Economics

Ernst Fehr

University of Zurich - Department of Economics

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Abstract

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 - the caste system - affects individuals' 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 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.

Keywords: social norms, informal sanctions, third party punishment, endogenous social preferences, social exclusion, collective action, caste

JEL Classification: D02, D64

Suggested Citation

Hoff, Karla and Kshetramade, Mayuresh and Fehr, Ernst, Caste and Punishment: The Legacy of Caste Culture in Norm Enforcement. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4343, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1455505

Karla Hoff (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Economics Group (DEC) ( email )

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Washington, DC 20433
United States

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/khoff

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

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Washington, DC 20433
United States

Mayuresh Kshetramade

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Economics ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States

Ernst Fehr

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

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Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland
+41 1 634 3709 (Phone)
+41 1 634 4907 (Fax)

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