How To Change Social Norms

To change entrenched social norms, isolate a group that has the new norms. Then slowly reintroduce others at a rate where they absorb the new norms. This applies to countries and to startups.

Persistent norms are not necessarily a bad thing, but you do need to think about what if you get stuck in a situation where the norms in a population are inefficient and really holding you back? Then you have to ask, what are the mechanisms where a group can change its norms? And this idea of letting a nonrepresentative subgroup go off and be the founding population in a new place. Then as people go in at a moderate rate from the old population to the new one, they can get socialized into the predominant culture in the new place.

With that mechanism, you can actually change the whole distribution of norms in a population in a way that might be more feasible than if you’re trying to change those norms in place in the population. These are the questions we should be asking about how to resolve some of the deepest challenges we face in development.

Source: Tyler Cowen and Paul Romer

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