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Geographical Distributions and Equilibrium in Social Norm-Related Behavior in the United States

Coleman, Stephen (2018): Geographical Distributions and Equilibrium in Social Norm-Related Behavior in the United States.

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Abstract

This research examines the geographical distribution of behavior in line with social norms that are spread and maintained primarily by the effect of social conformity. These include widely held norms that good citizens vote, don’t commit crimes, get flu vaccinations, abstain from binge drinking, and comply with census reporting. A partial differential equation model is used to determine whether such behavior may have attained a geospatial equilibrium in the United States. An equilibrium, as the end state of a diffusion process, has definitive mathematical properties that can be used to test for equilibrium. This is done using recent data for the 48 contiguous states. Results confirm that behavior for several important social norms fits the equilibrium model geographically. Policy implications are briefly discussed.

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