We show that the sharp increase in hate crime following the Brexit referendum was more pronounced in more pro-remain areas. This is consistent with a model where behavior is dictated by the desire to conform to imperfectly observed social norms in addition to following individual preferences, and where the referendum revealed that society’s real preferences over immigration were less positive than previously thought. For identification, we exploit the feature that the referendum revealed new information overnight in a context where other determinants of attitudes remained constant. The data can be replicated with a sensible parameterization of the model.
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Facundo Albornoz, Jake Bradley and Silvia Sonderegger
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