Ignorance allows individuals to excuse questionable moral behavior. This paper studies the elasticity of moral ignorance with respect to monetary and non-monetary incentives. We document that monetary incentives, even if small, can significantly reduce ignorance. By contrast, social norms have little impact on ignorance. Social norms increase moral behavior but, at the same time, reduce information demand among individuals who do not comply with the norm. Using an additional unrelated task, we document that ignorance is persistent across contexts and through time. We propose and structurally estimate a simple behavioral model in line with our findings.
The (In)Elasticity of Moral Ignorance
Marta Serra-Garcia und Nora Szech