Evolution of a Social Norm: The Rise and Fall of the Enforcer in the National Hockey League
30 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2016 Last revised: 18 Jan 2019
Date Written: January 16, 2019
FFormal rules and social norms are both important components of sanctioning anti-social behavior. However, finding data to analyze how these dual enforcement measures reinforce each other and change over time can be difficult. To provide insights on the interplay between rules and norms we examine the empirical evolution of fighting and scoring in the National Hockey League (NHL) using time series data from 1957-2013. Applying our empirical analysis, we identify structural changes that correlate with player behavior and rule changes, especially those that focus on fighting. Most interesting, we find that player behavior relating to fighting changed significantly four or five years prior to most rule changes intended to reduce fighting. We conclude that the rise and fall of the enforcer in the NHL was more closely associated with a change in social norms rather than a change in formal rules.
Keywords: Social Norms, Cultural Change, Rule Changes, Structural Breaks
JEL Classification: Z22, D71, L83
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation