Coase-Sandor Working Paper Series in Law and Economics

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Law & Economics Working Papers


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.



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