What sustains social norms and how they evolve? The case of tipping

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131 Scopus citations


The paper presents a model of the evolution of social norms. When a norm is costly to follow and people do not derive benefits from following it other than avoiding social disapproval, the norm erodes over time. Tip percentages, however, increased over the years, suggesting that people derive benefits from tipping including impressing others and improving their self-image as being generous and kind. The implications to the norm of not cooperating with new workers who accept lower wages are discussed; the model suggests that incumbent workers have reasons to follow this norm in addition to avoiding social disapproval.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-64
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 May 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Conformist transmission
  • Conformity
  • Evolution
  • Social norms
  • Tipping


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