Creating and Enforcing Norms, with Special Reference to Sanctions

Posted: 12 May 2000

See all articles by Richard A. Posner

Richard A. Posner

University of Chicago Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Eric Bennett Rasmusen

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Economics & Public Policy

Date Written: July 1999

Abstract

Two central puzzles about social norms are how they are enforced and how they are created or modified. The sanctions for the violation of a norm can be categorized as automatic, guilt, shame, informational, bilateral-costly, and multilateral-costly. The choice of sanction is related to problems in creating and modifying norms. We use our analysis of the creation, modification, and enforcement of norms to analyze the scope of feasible government action either to promote desirable norms or to repress undesirable ones. We conclude that the difficulty of predicting the effect of such action limits its feasible scope.

JEL Classification: K00, P00, P50, Z10

Suggested Citation

Posner, Richard A. and Rasmusen, Eric Bennett, Creating and Enforcing Norms, with Special Reference to Sanctions (July 1999). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=172008

Richard A. Posner

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Eric Bennett Rasmusen (Contact Author)

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