Jun Goto, Hitotsubashi University

"On the Origins of Altruistic Norms: Tenure Institutions, Resource Scarcity, and Conflicts in Colonial India"


Why do social norms emerge? When do they persist over a long time? Understanding what factors shape the formation of social norms is indispensable in designing optimal incentive structures which can be varied with societies. In this paper, I provide the first econometric evidence on the origins and the path dependence of altruistic norms by exploiting the historical natural experiment during the colonial period (1801-1947) in South India combined with lab-in-the-field experiments. Specifically, I identify the causal impacts of the inter-group conflict in tenure institutions on the evolution of in-group favoritism and out-group hostility, which are rigorously confirmed by a variety of identification strategies. Furthermore, I demonstrate that altruistic norms driven by in-group favoritism have persisted over generations even after the institutions had dissipated.

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