nep-lam New Economics Papers
on Central and South America
Issue of 2021‒11‒29
three papers chosen by

  1. Leaders in Juvenile Crime By Díaz, Carlos; Patacchini, Eleonora; Verdier, Thierry; Zenou, Yves
  2. Does Social Media cause Polarization? Evidence from access to Twitter Echo Chambers during the 2019 Argentine Presidential Debate By Rafael Di Tella; Ramiro H. Gálvez; Ernesto Schargrodsky
  3. Earthquakes and Mental Health By Luisito Bertinelli; clotilde Mahé; Eric Strobl

  1. By: Díaz, Carlos (Catholic University of Uruguay); Patacchini, Eleonora (Cornell University); Verdier, Thierry (Paris School of Economics); Zenou, Yves (Monash University)
    Abstract: This paper presents a new theory of crime where leaders transmit a crime technology and act as a role model for other criminals. We show that, in equilibrium, an individual's crime effort and criminal decisions depend on the geodesic distance to the leader in his or her network of social contacts. By using data on friendship networks among U.S. high-school students, we structurally estimate the model and find evidence supporting its predictions. In particular, by using a definition of a criminal leader that is exogenous to the network formation of friendship links, we find that the longer is the distance to the leader, the lower is the criminal activity of the delinquents and the less likely they are to become criminals. We finally perform a counterfactual experiment that reveals that a policy that removes all criminal leaders from a school can, on average, reduce criminal activity by about 20% and the individual probability of becoming a criminal by 10%.
    Keywords: crime leaders, social distance, criminal decisions, closeness centrality
    JEL: C31 D85 K42
    Date: 2021–10
  2. By: Rafael Di Tella; Ramiro H. Gálvez; Ernesto Schargrodsky
    Abstract: We study how two groups, those inside vs those outside echo chambers, react to a political event when we vary social media status (Twitter). Our treatments mimic two strategies often suggested as a way to limit polarization on social media: they expose people to counter-attitudinal data, and they get people to switch off social media. Our main result is that subjects that started inside echo chambers became more polarized when these two strategies were implemented. The only scenario where they did not become more polarized is when they did not even experience the political event. Interestingly, subjects that were outside echo chambers before our study began experienced no change (or a reduction) in polarization. We also study a group of non-Twitter users in order to have a simple, offline benchmark of the debate’s impact on polarization.
    JEL: D72 L82 L86 O33 P16 Z13
    Date: 2021–11
  3. By: Luisito Bertinelli (Department of Economics and Management, Université du Luxembourg); clotilde Mahé (Universidad de los Andes in Columbia); Eric Strobl (University of Bern)
    Abstract: Earthquakes may seriously deteriorate mental health by generating fear and stress as a result of economic and human losses. However, mental health has also been found to improve as a result of greater social cohesion in affected communities after the event. We examine the short-run effects of earthquakes on a wide set of mental health outcomes in Ecuador. To this end, we combine hospital admissions, death records, and survey data with precise measures of local seismic activity to exploit the plausibly random spatial and temporal nature of earthquake intensity. We find that damaging earthquakes decrease the propensity to be admitted, the number of days of hospitalisation for mental and behavioural disorders, and deaths due to suicide. Estimates from nationally-representative surveys provide suggestive evidence of increased life satisfaction, trust, and religious observance, and thus provide a possible explanation for the fall in admissions and suicides after an earthquake.
    Keywords: Earthquake, Mental health, Ecuador.
    JEL: I15 Q54 O54
    Date: 2021

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