nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2006‒03‒25
eleven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Universita degli Studi di Roma, La Sapienza

  1. Social capital and the reproduction of economic inequality in polarized societies By Mogues, Tewodaj; Carter, Michael
  2. The Determinants of Trust By Bjørnskov, Christian
  3. Initiatives for rural development through collective action By Kariuki, Gatarwa; Place, Frank
  4. Theory and Empirical Evidence of Business Support Networks By Kaie Kerem; Vello Vensel
  5. Collective action for the conservation of on-farm genetic diversity in a center of crop diversity By Badstue, Lone B.; Bellon, Mauricio R.; Berthaud, Julien; Ramírez, Alejandro; Flores, Dagoberto; Juárez, Xóchitl; Ramírez, Fabiola
  6. Familiar Faces, Familiar Places: The role of family networks and previous experience for Albanian migrants By Gero Carletto; Benjamin Davis; Marco Stampini
  7. Team incentives in public organisations; an experimental study. By Jana Vyrastekova; Sander Onderstal; Pierre Koning
  8. Ethnic segregation and educational performance at secondary school in Bradford and Leicester By Ron Johnston; Deborah Wilson; Simon Burgess
  9. Do Attitudes Towards Corruption Differ Across Cultures? Experimental Evidence from Australia, India, Indonesia andSingapore By L. Cameron; A. Chaudhuri; N. Erkal; L. Gangadharan
  10. Capital Social y redes: Una Aproximación al Apoyo Inter-hogares By Zuleika Ferré
  11. Religión By Ianina Rossi; Máximo Rossi

  1. By: Mogues, Tewodaj; Carter, Michael
    Abstract: This paper explores the idea of how wealth is distributed across social groups (ethnic or language groups, gender, etc.) and how such distribution fundamentally affects the evolution of economic inequality. By providing microfoundations suitable for this exploration, the paper hopes to enhance the understanding of when social forces contribute to the reproduction of economic inequality. In tackling this issue, the paper offers contributions in two domains. First, it models social capital as a real capital asset with direct use and collateral value. Second, it extends the concepts of identity, alienation and polarization used by Esteban and Ray (1994). This generalization permits consideration of the multiple characteristics that shape social identity, inclusion and exclusion. It also underwrites a higher-order measure of socioeconomic polarization that permits exploration of the hypothesis that economic inequality is most pernicious and persistent when it is socially embedded. Among other things the paper shows that holding constant the initial levels of economic polarization and wealth inequality, higher socioeconomic polarization increases subsequent income and wealth inequality. Far from being a distributionally neutral panacea for missing markets, social capital in this model may itself generate exclusion and deepen social and economic cleavages.
    Keywords: Equality ,Social capital ,economic distribution ,
    Date: 2005
  2. By: Bjørnskov, Christian (Aarhus School of Business)
    Abstract: During the last 15 years, the social capital literature has grown rapidly. In particular after Robert Putnam’s (1993) study of regional governments in Italy, the interest among economists and politologists exploded as Putnam showed that the concept could be used in quantitative explanations of a series of social and economic phenomena. The early literature was unavoidably indiscriminate as to distinguishing between the various elements of social capital, but more recent literature has stressed the need to distinguish between the constituent elements of Putnam’s social capital concept, in particular emphasizing the role of social trust. This is in turn defined as the confidence people have that strangers, i.e. fellow citizens on whom they have no specific information, will not take advantage of them (Uslaner, 2002; Bjørnskov, 2006). Using the answers to the World Values Survey question “In general, do you think that most people can be trusted?”, the by now quite substantial literature has found that social trust is associated with a set of different macroeconomic outcomes: economic growth, the rule of law and overall quality of governance, corruption, education, the extent of violent crime and subjective well-being are all influenced by the propensity of people within any nation to trust each other. The questions are therefore where trust comes from and whether or not it can be affected by public policy. The answers to these questions seem to divide researchers into two camps: the optimists and the pessimists. The former group may be best represented by Knack and Zak (2002) who estimate the effects of education and the rule of law alongside a set of factors that cannot be influenced in the short to medium run. The pessimist group, on the other hand, does not find much of a role for policy as they argue that the empirical associations between social trust and e.g. education or rule of law reflect the reverse causal direction, i.e. that trust has caused part of the cross-country differences in these factors. The aim of this paper is to assess the impact of a number of the central factors proposed in the literature and sort out which of those factors are associated with social trust. Although it to some extent rests on earlier work in Uslaner (2002) and Bjørnskov (2005), the paper differs from earlier studies in using a much larger sample of countries and including extra factors. It moreover distinguishes between factors affecting individuals’ trust radii and social distance, respectively, and explores indirect effects.
    Keywords: trust; social capital; institutions; rule of law
    JEL: Z13
    Date: 2006–03–23
  3. By: Kariuki, Gatarwa; Place, Frank
    Abstract: "Dimensions of the nature, scope, and complexity of collective action in Kenya have evolved over many years. In studying collective action, the aim is to understand why and how people participate in networks of trust. The purpose of this study was to investigate the different objectives that farmers pursue through collective action with the aim of understanding the patterns of people's participation in collective action, identify factors that influence people to join groups, and identify the costs and benefits of participating in activities of groups. The study was carried out in four sites spread across the highlands of central Kenya. Data was collected from a total of 442 households, focusing on whether members of those households belonged to groups and if so, what type of groups these were and their activities. In addition we looked at how these groups functioned and identified some of the contributions members make to these groups and the benefits from the same. The analysis shows that collective action is used to accomplish a range of activities for different socioeconomic categories and that the majority of households in central Kenya engage in some form of group activity.... The study suggests that where institutions and policies that promote individual or private sector growth are weak, collective action can help to overcome these weaknesses and connect individuals in these institutions and policies." from Author's Abstract
    Keywords: Collective action ,Trust ,Community participation ,cost benefit analysis ,Household surveys ,
    Date: 2005
  4. By: Kaie Kerem (School of Economics and Business Administration, Tallinn University of Technology); Vello Vensel (School of Economics and Business Administration, Tallinn University of Technology)
    Abstract: Business firms operate in a certain environment in which they interact with one another, with individuals, governmental organisations, financial institutions and various other interest groups. Operation of respective economic and social networks (both voluntary and private market determined) may have an important effect on the overall business environment. This paper presents and analyses some results of the special sample survey of Estonian firms undertaken in 1994-2003. Our main attention in this paper is focused on business supporting services provided by various institutions and on the operation of disputes’ resolution mechanism, using the concept of social networks. It is argued that the state enforcement mechanism is working weakly in the still unstable legal environment and firms have to use different self-enforcement mechanisms (through social networks) to resolve disputes. Social networks are also used for obtaining additional financing for investment. The success of the operation of social networks depends on the government economic policy.
    Keywords: economic and social networks, social capital, business supporting services, enforcement mechanism, value creation.
    JEL: Z13 P30 K42
    Date: 2005
  5. By: Badstue, Lone B.; Bellon, Mauricio R.; Berthaud, Julien; Ramírez, Alejandro; Flores, Dagoberto; Juárez, Xóchitl; Ramírez, Fabiola
    Abstract: "This project explored the possible role of collective action among small-scale farmers in managing and maintaining genetic resources in a center of crop diversity. It focused on the local institutions that ensure the supply of seed of diverse maize landraces to small-scale farmers in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, Mexico. The key hypothesis was that the medium-to-long-term supply of a diverse set of varieties to any individual small-scale maize farmer depends on an agreement among a group of farmers to manage and supply the seed of these landraces to each other, if the need arises, and that this constitutes a form of collective action. Six communities were studied, three of them in-depth. Methodologies used included in-depth semi-structured interviews with key informants, focus group discussions, and a tracer study—following the flows of seed among different farmers. The results show that, while there is a well-developed local seed supply system based on sets of social relationships and involving multiple types of transactions, there is no evidence of collective action. Most farmers rely on and prefer to select and save seed from their own harvests. There are seed flows, however, and most seed transactions take place among people with social links, but not within a well-defined group. There are no specialized suppliers of seed, either individuals or groups. Most transactions are bilateral and while the most common transaction is the sale and purchase of seed, this is not done for profit but out of a sense of moral obligation. The system is based on the creation of trust, which is needed because seed is not transparent—that is, it is not possible to fully predict the plant phenotype that may result from a given seed simply by looking at the seed. Farmers demand different types of maize and they believe that there is a strong genotype-by-environment interaction, hence “foreign” maize types may not be appropriate for them. At the same time, farmers also find occasional experimentation beneficial and believe that they can slowly modify the characteristics of “foreign” landraces. In this system, there are strong incentives to be conservative, but also to try new landraces and experiment. The local seed system of these farmers is resilient but able to innovate as well. Interventions to support the conservation of landraces on farm, based on specialized networks for seed that rely on collective action, may not work.." Author's Abstract
    Keywords: Central America ,Europe and North America ,Small farmers ,Collective action ,Informal seed systems ,Crop diversification ,Seed supply ,Trust ,
    Date: 2005
  6. By: Gero Carletto (Agricultural and Development Economics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization); Benjamin Davis (Agricultural and Development Economics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization); Marco Stampini
    Abstract: Using data from the 2003 Albania Panel Survey, the paper sets out to achieve two main objectives. First, we fully characterize the evolution of Albanian international migration since the fall of Communism in 1990. We distinguish between permanent and temporary migration, and between the two principal destinations, Greece and Italy. Second, we explore, using multivariate analysis, what individual, household and community level factors influence the current decision to migrate internationally, focusing on the role of previous personal experience and family networks. We find evidence of important changes over time in the pull and push factors that drive migration flows. While early on in the transition political and economic factors were predominant, over time personal experience and household migration networks assumed a fundamental role, facilitating growth in migration even in times of the relatively stable economic conditions. Other individual, household, and community factors have an important role in the decision to migrate, and these factors vary by type of migration and destination. Furthermore, the spatial configuration of migration is also changing: both temporary and permanent migration are expanding into new parts of the country. The results have important policy implications. First, policies aimed at controlling migration are likely to be less effective where networks have already developed or where engrained patterns of repeat migration are established. Second, despite increasing legality, migration, particularly for newcomers, is still difficult, risky and often illegal, which fosters a climate of exploitation and abuse. Third, we find that highly educated individuals have a higher propensity to migrate permanently, which constitutes a serious potential risk in terms of brain drain.
    Keywords: Albania, Families, Migration, Population dynamics, Rural urban migration, Social groups, Sociology, Urban rural migration
    JEL: F22 P2
    Date: 2005
  7. By: Jana Vyrastekova; Sander Onderstal; Pierre Koning
    Abstract: Using a simple production game, we investigate whether public firms perform better when they increase the power of their workers’ incentive schemes. In a laboratory experiment, subjects choose between a ‘public firm’ and a ‘private firm’ with team and individual incentives, respectively. When exposed to individual incentives, workers in the public firm increase effort in one parametrisation, but show a decrease in another. One reason for the latter observation is that reciprocators self-select in the public firm, rendering cooperation profitable.
    Keywords: Personnel Economics; Game theory; Experiments; Nonprofit organizations and public enterprise
    JEL: M5 C7 C9 L3
    Date: 2006–03
  8. By: Ron Johnston; Deborah Wilson; Simon Burgess
    Abstract: Evidence suggests considerable variation among British ethnic groups in their performance at different stages of their educational careers. Many members of those groups are concentrated in particular parts of certain cities, and as a consequence many attend ethnically-segregated schools. Using pupil- and school-level data from the Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC) in England, this paper explores the relationship between performance and various student and school characteristics in Bradford (which has a large Pakistani population) and Leicester (with a large Indian population). It finds evidence of a correlation between school ethnic composition and performance in Bradford but not Leicester.
    Keywords: ethnic segregation, schools, attainment levels, Bradford, Leicester
    JEL: I20
    Date: 2006–03
  9. By: L. Cameron; A. Chaudhuri; N. Erkal; L. Gangadharan
    Abstract: This paper examines cultural differences in attitudes towards corruption by analysing individual-decision making in a corrupt experimental environment. Attitudes towards corruption play a critical role in the persistence of corruption. Our experiments differentiate between the incentives to engage in corrupt behaviour and the incentives to punish corrupt behaviour and allow us to explore whether, in environments characterized by lower levels of corruption, there is both a lower propensity to engage in corrupt behaviour and a higher propensity to punish corrupt behaviour. Based on experiments run in Australia (Melbourne), India (Delhi), Indonesia (Jakarta) and Singapore, we find that there is more variation in the propensities to punish corrupt behaviour than in the propensities to engage in corrupt behaviour across cultures. The results reveal that the subjects in India exhibit a higher tolerance towards corruption than the subjects in Australia while the subjects in Indonesia behave similarly to those in Australia. The subjects in Singapore have a higher propensity to engage in corruption than the subjects in Australia. We also vary our experimental design to examine the impact of a more effective punishment system and the effect of the perceived cost of bribery.
    Keywords: Corruption, Experiments, Punishment, Cultural Analysis
    JEL: C91 D73 O17 K42
    Date: 2005
  10. By: Zuleika Ferré (Departmento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de la República)
    Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between individuals, analyzing households transfers in time or money with the perceived access to time and money help among relatives. The principal aim of this work is to understand if instances in which the members of a family support a relative can be considered to be an investment in nets and therefore accumulation of social capital; or simply to be altruistic motivations. On the other hand, it analyzes the potential tradeoffs of assistance (money vs time). The study finds that the assitance is explained by the exchange hypothesis. There isn't specialization, the help provided in time and money appear to be substitutes and not complementary.
    Keywords: capital social, redes sociales, transferencias monetarias, transferencias en tiempo
    JEL: D10 D13
    Date: 2004–12
  11. By: Ianina Rossi (Departmento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de la República); Máximo Rossi (Departmento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de la República)
    Abstract: The present paper is a first attempt to measure and explain, from an economic perspective, the religious behavior of uruguayans (women in this stage), and compare the results with those obtained for some Latin American and developed countries. In this first stage, the efforts were concentrated in the interpretation of the religious behavior from an microeconomic perspective, considering the individual decision about church attendance and its frequency. With this aim, we analyze the relation between the religious degree of the individuals (measured through a variable created combining two questions of the used surveys Are you religious? How often do you go to the temple?) and diverse personal characteristics such as age, education, marital status, among others (solely for women from 25 to 54 years old in the case of Uruguay). We confirmed that uruguayans are less religious than the people of the other countries considered (Chile, Spain, Mexico and the United States), that the religious activity is more intense for women and older people, and that the education level have an ambiguous effect on the intensity of the religious activity. In addition, in the case of Uruguay, greater levels of deprivation imply greater levels of religious activity.
    Keywords: church attendance, religion, religious activity, religion and socioeconomic variables.
    JEL: Z12
    Date: 2004–12

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