Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



College of Business and Economics

Document Number





We revisit the mechanisms that drive tipping behavior by comparing tourists and locals in New York City. It is unlikely a tourist will tip as a way of enforcing repeated interactions since they are not from the area, while a local may tip as an enforcement mechanism. However, if people tip because of social norms, we should see both tourists and locals tipping similar amounts. We compare locals and tourists who are theatergoers to control for education and income, as these factors are likely to affect tipping behavior. Using data from the New York City and Limousine Commission on yellow taxis, we identify tourists as those trips leaving from or going to a hotel and theatergoers as trips where the drop off or pick up is near Broadway within 30 minutes of the beginning or end of a show. Our results suggest that tourists and theatergoers tip more than locals and non-theatergoers, and tourists who are theatergoers tip even more, between 0.51% and 0.67% more. These results are robust across specifications and suggest that social norms are likely driving tipping behavior.