Thanks to the Nobel committee for their good timing. A PhD student of mine, Matt Interis* (now at Mississippi State University) wrote his dissertation on social norms and their role in the management (or mismanagement) of public goods. He currently has two papers under review dealing with questions surrounding the governance of public goods and the role norms play in the design of efficient public goods policy. The abstracts for both papers are below. If you have an interest in reading either paper, let me know...
*Apparently Mississippi State has a dress code. I'm pretty sure Matt had to borrow a tie for that picture.
Norms, Self Sanctioning and Contributions to Public Goods (Matt Interis and Tim Haab)
Abstract: The relationship between norms, self-sanctioning, and people’s decisions about contributing to public goods is complex and often misunderstood in the public goods literature.We develop a model in which individuals hold an injunctive norm indicating how much they believe one should contribute to the public good. From the model we derive the following testable hypotheses: a change in one’s perception of the norm level of contribution to the public good (1) induces negative self-sanctioning and (2) will lead one to contribute more to the public good, and (3) that contributing to the public good induces positive self-sanctioning. To test these hypotheses, we elicit stated preferences for contributions to an organization which offsets carbon emissions and a proxy for self-sanctioning, change in respondent “self-image.”
Woodsy the Optimal Owl: Environmental Campaigns, Norms and Implications for Public Goods Policy (Matt Interis and Tim Haab)
Abstract: Norms regarding private provision of a public good (e.g. cutting down on energy use, not littering) can affect marginal gains from contributing to a public good and therefore people’s decisions about contributing to the public good. A model is proposed in which norms can be influenced by public policy. Social welfare effects of influencing norms depend on how norm manipulation is achieved, and in our model, policy-makers raise tax revenue and allocate it between direct provision of a public good and influencing norms of private provision. We analyze efficiency and welfare effects of such a policy and offer guidelines on when influencing norms might be welfare-improving.