• Table of Contents

social norms

H. Peyton Young
From The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Second Edition, 2008
Edited by Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume
Back to top


The function of a social norm is to coordinate people's expectations in interactions that possess multiple equilibria. Norms govern a wide range of phenomena, including property rights, contracts, bargains, forms of communication, and concepts of justice. Norms impose uniformity of behaviour within a given social group, but often vary substantially among groups. Over time norm shifts may occur, prompted either by changes in objective circumstances or by subjective changes in perceptions and expectations. The dynamics of this process can be modelled using evolutionary game theory, which predicts that some norms are more stable than others in the long run.
Back to top


Back to top


Back to top

How to cite this article

Young, H. Peyton. "social norms." The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Second Edition. Eds. Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics Online. Palgrave Macmillan. 11 December 2017 <http://www.dictionaryofeconomics.com/article?id=pde2008_S000466> doi:10.1057/9780230226203.1563

Download Citation:

as RIS | as text | as CSV | as BibTex