Mitigating the Shadow of Conflict
The history of mankind has been shaped by conflicts - conflicts on the interpersonal scale as well as between small groups or nations. The source of conflicts most of the time is the desire to secure some kind of valuable resource, be it consumption or production goods that serve as inputs for consumption. Conflicts and opportunities for conflict influence the incentives for investment and production. Furthermore, to conduct conflicts valuable resources are employed, which may be put to other - more productive - uses. Therefore, conflicts lead to a waste of valuable resources. Realizing this has lead mankind to the design of institutions that try to mitigate and regulate conflicts, thereby making conflicts less wasteful. These institutions range from formal ones (e.g. property rights combined with a legal system that guarantees the enforcement) to informal ones (e.g. social norms) and have witnessed considerable change over the course of history and differences between cultures. The central theme of this thesis is how informal rules can serve to reduce conflict and under which circumstances individuals actually choose to create such rules. For one, the effects of informal institutions in the form of moral norms on the conflict level in a society are analyzed. Depending on who is affected, strategic effects between involved parties may lead to more total conflict efforts instead of less if the impact of moral rules changes asymmetrically. Second, the effects of social capital and the incentives for investment in it are subject to analysis. Last but not least, the thesis contains the first step of a microfoundation that normative preferences can actually be influenced.