DP15119 How Laws Affect the Perception of Norms: Empirical Evidence from the Lockdown

Author(s): Roberto Galbiati, Emeric Henry, Nicolas Jacquemet, Max Lobeck
Publication Date: August 2020
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Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15119

Laws not only affect behavior due to changes in material payoffs, but they may also change the perception individuals have of societal norms, either by shifting them directly or by providing information on these norms. Using detailed daily survey data and exploiting the introduction of lockdown measures in the UK in the context of the COVID-19 health crisis, we provide causal evidence that the law drastically changed the perception of the norms regarding social distancing behaviors. We show this effect of laws on perceived norms is mostly driven by an informational channel.