Can the Culture of Honor Lead to Inefficient Conventions? Experimental Evidence from India

40 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2016

See all articles by Benjamin A. Brooks

Benjamin A. Brooks

Princeton University - Department of Economics

Karla Hoff

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

Priyanka Pandey

World Bank

Date Written: September 20, 2016

Abstract

Experiments in the United States have found that pairs of individuals are generally able to form socially efficient conventions in coordination games of common interest in a remarkably short time. This paper shows that this ability is not universal. The paper reports the results of a field experiment in India in which pairs of men from high and low castes repeatedly played a coordination game of common interest. Low-caste pairs overwhelmingly coordinated on the efficient equilibrium, consistent with earlier findings. In contrast, high-caste pairs coordinated on the efficient equilibrium at a much lower rate, with only 47 percent in efficient coordination in the final period of the experiment. The study traces the divergence in outcomes to how an individual responds to the low payoff he obtains when he attempts efficient coordination but his partner does not. After this event, high-caste men are significantly less likely than low-caste men to continue trying for efficiency. The limited ability to form the efficient convention can be explained by the framing effect of the culture of honor among high-caste men, which may lead them to interpret this event as a challenge to their honor, which triggers a retaliatory response.

Keywords: Regional Governance, Local Government, Rural Settlements, Agricultural Growth and Rural Development

Suggested Citation

Brooks, Benjamin A. and Hoff, Karla and Pandey, Priyanka, Can the Culture of Honor Lead to Inefficient Conventions? Experimental Evidence from India (September 20, 2016). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7829, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2849130

Benjamin A. Brooks (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Economics ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

Karla Hoff

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

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Priyanka Pandey

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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