PEW: Matt Jackson


Event Description

We investigate the complementarity between informal communities and formal government enforcement of norms of reciprocation and exchange. We introduce a model in which people exchange informally within their community as well as externally on a market. We show that informal community and formal enforcement are complements: the news that someone was convicted of cheating on the market leads that person to be ostracized by their community, bolstering incentives. Although transactions within a community can be less directly beneficial than those on a wider market, doing some transactions within a community and others on a formal market lowers overall costs of enforcement and is still welfare-enhancing compared to either extreme for a wide range of costs of formal enforcement. We also show that religion can enhance the complementarity between community and formal enforcement, while corruption undermines it