Governance and Political Economy


Law in the Books: Experimentally Testing the Power of Social Norms to Invalidate

Project members:
Christoph Engel, Bonn University, Germany,
Klaus Heine, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands
ShaheenNaseer, Lahore School of Economics

This research is funded by the Max Planck Institute Bonn, Germany. The present study investigates a conflict between social norms and the law of the land in inheritance in Pakistan. We contribute to this literature by translating a conflict between law and social norms into a fully controlled experiment. Are those disfavored by the social norm nonetheless willing to follow it? Do those favored by the norm demand that it be obeyed? Are those favored by the norm willing to engage in costly punishment if the norm is violated? And are those disfavored willing to punish if they are asked to follow the norm? Do those favored, or disfavored for that matter, anticipate punishment and are disciplined.

(The discussion paper is available here: