Political Economy

The (In)Elasticity of Moral Ignorance

  • Author:

    Marta Serra-Garcia and Nora Szech

  • Date: December 2019
  • Ignorance enables individuals to act immorally. This is well known in policy circles, where there is keen interest in lowering moral ignorance. In this paper, we demonstrate the relevance of demand elasticity to ignorance by showing that small monetary incentives can signicantly reduce ignorance. We contrast monetary incentives with social norms, which have little impact on ignorance and actually increase ignorance in more selfish individuals. Using a longitudinal design, we document that ignorance is persistent across moral contexts and through time. We propose and structurally estimate a simple behavioral model in line with our findings.