The effectiveness of prosocial policies: Gender differences arising from social norms Articles uri icon

publication date

  • December 2022

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 23


  • 12, e0275383


  • 17

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1932-6203


  • We study policies aimed at discouraging behavior that produces negative externalities, and their differential gender impact. Using driving as an application, we carry out an experiment where slowest vehicles are the safest choice, whereas faster driving speeds lead to higher potential payoffs but higher probabilities of accidents. Faster speeds have a personal benefit but create a negative externality. We consider four experimental policy conditions: a baseline situation, a framing condition in which drivers are suggested that driving fast violates a social norm, and two punishment conditions, one exogenous and one endogenous. We find that the most effective policies use different framing and endogenously determined punishment mechanisms (to fast drivers by other drivers). These policies are only effective for female drivers which leads to substantial gender payoff differences. Our data suggest that these results arise from differences in social norms across genders, thus opening the way to designing more effective policies.


  • Economics
  • Mathematics
  • Sociology


  • prosocial behavior; social policy; behavior; decision making; experimental economics; experimental design; games; transportation