nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2006‒04‒29
fifteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Universita degli Studi di Roma, La Sapienza

  1. Does Envy Destroy Social Fundamentals? The Impact of Relative Income Position on Social Capital By Benno Torgler; Justina A.V. Fischer
  2. The impact of group membership on cooperation and norm enforcement: evidence using random assignment to real social groups By Lorenz Goette; David Huffman; Stephan Meier
  3. Social Capital and Labour Productivity in Italy By Fabio Sabatini
  4. Do people behave in experiments as in the field?: evidence from donations By Matthias Benz; Stephan Meier
  5. Democratic capital: The nexus of political and economic change By Torsten Persson; Guido Tabellini
  6. Being generous within social networks By Pablo Brañas-Garza; María Paz Espinosa
  7. Keeping in Touch: A Benefit of Public Holidays By Joachim Merz; Lars Osberg
  8. Close Neighbours Matter: Neighbourhood Effects on Early Performance at School By Dominique Goux; Eric Maurin
  9. A survey of trust, control and information in networks By Jakobsen, Morten
  10. Expectations, Network Effects and Timing of Technology Adoption: Some Empirical Evidence from a Sample of SMEs in Italy By Nicoletta Corrocher; Roberto Fontana
  11. Cultural Diversity in People’s Attitudes and Perceptions By Diana Petkova
  12. Reciprocity and Network Coordination: Evidence from Japanese Banks By Zekeriya Eser; Joe Peek
  13. Governance and Migration in a South-North Partnership By Thierry Baudassé
  14. Overcoming Participation Constraints By Hanming Fang; Peter Norman
  15. Diversities in Diversity: Exploring Moroccan Migrants’ Livelihood in Genoa By Roberto Alzetta

  1. By: Benno Torgler (Yale Center for International and Area Studies); Justina A.V. Fischer (Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economic Research (SIAW))
    Abstract: Research evidence on the impact of relative income position on individual attitudes and behaviour is sorely lacking. Therefore, this paper assesses such positional impact on social capital by applying 14 different measurements to International Social Survey Programme data from 25 countries. We find support for a positional concern effect or ‘envy’ whose magnitude in several cases is quite substantial. The results indicate that such an effect is non-linear. In addition, we find an indication that absolute income level is also relevant. Lastly, changing the reference group (regional versus national) produces no significant differences in the results.
    Keywords: Relative Income Position, Envy, Positional Concerns, Social Capital, Social Norms, Happiness
    JEL: Z13 H26 I31 D00 D60
    Date: 2006–02
  2. By: Lorenz Goette; David Huffman; Stephan Meier
    Abstract: Due to incomplete contracts, efficiency of an organization depends on willingness of individuals to take non-selfish actions, such as cooperating when there is no incentive to do so or punishing inefficient actions by others. Organizations also constitute a social boundary, or group. We investigate whether this social aspect of organizations has an important benefit— fostering unselfish cooperation and norm enforcement within the group—but also whether there is a dark side, in the form of hostility between groups. Our experiment provides the first evidence free from the confounding effect of self-selection into groups. Individuals are randomly assigned to different platoons during a four-week period of officer training in the Swiss Army. We conduct choice experiments—simultaneous prisoner’s dilemma games, with and without third-party punishment—in week three. Random assignment significantly increases willingness to cooperate with fellow platoon members. Assignment does not lead to hostility, in the sense of vindictive punishment of outsiders, but does affect norm enforcement, enhancing willingness to enforce a norm of cooperation towards fellow platoon members. This suggests that the social aspect of organizations motivates efficient behavior even when ordinary incentives fail and helps to explain practices designed to foster social ties or group identification within an organization.
    Keywords: Human behavior ; Interpersonal relations
    Date: 2006
  3. By: Fabio Sabatini (University of Rome La Sapienza)
    Abstract: This paper carries out an empirical assessment of the relationship between social capital and labour productivity in small and medium enterprises in Italy. By means of structural equations models, the analysis investigates the effect of different aspects of the multifaceted concept of social capital. The bonding social capital of strong family ties and the bridging social capital shaped by informal ties connecting friends and acquaintances are proved to exert a negative effect on labour productivity, the economic performance, and human development. On the contrary, the linking social capital of voluntary organizations positively influences such outcomes.
    Keywords: Labour productivity, Small and medium enterprises, Social capital, Social networks, Structural equations models
    JEL: J24 R11 O15 O18 Z13
    Date: 2006–02
  4. By: Matthias Benz; Stephan Meier
    Abstract: Laboratory experiments are an important methodology in economics, especially in the field of behavioral economics. However, it is still debated to what extent results from laboratory experiments can be applied to field settings. One highly important question with respect to the external validity of experiments is whether individuals act the same in experiments as they would in the field. ; This paper presents evidence on how individuals behave in donation experiments and how the same individuals behave in a naturally occurring decision situation on charitable giving. The results show that behavior in experiments is correlated with behavior in the field. The results are robust to variations in the experimental setting, and the correlation between experimental and field behavior is between 0.25 and 0.4. We discuss whether this correlation should be interpreted as strong or weak and what consequences the findings have for experimental economics.
    Keywords: Human behavior ; Interpersonal relations ; Charitable bequests
    Date: 2006
  5. By: Torsten Persson; Guido Tabellini
    Date: 2006–04–20
  6. By: Pablo Brañas-Garza (Department of Economic Theory and Economic History, University of Granada.); María Paz Espinosa (Universidad del País Vasco)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the determinants of giving within a social network. We find two main explanatory variables for previous experimental results, both related to the level of social integration. The first is the level of social capital, which has a positive impact on giving. The second variable is strategic and it is based on reciprocity, the possibility of ex-post favors. While the former is associated to reciprocity in the long term, the later might be interpreted as reciprocity in a second stage of the game. The econometric analysis shows that both variables play a positive (and significant) role.
    Keywords: giving, social networks, reciprocity, social capital.
    JEL: C91 D64 Z13
    Date: 2006–04–24
  7. By: Joachim Merz (University of Lueneburg and IZA Bonn); Lars Osberg (Dalhousie University)
    Abstract: This paper argues that public holidays facilitate the co-ordination of leisure time but do not constrain the annual amount of leisure. Public holidays therefore have benefits both in the utility of leisure on holidays and (by enabling people to maintain social contacts more easily) in increasing the utility of leisure on normal weekdays and weekends. The paper uses the variation (13 to 17) in public holidays across German Länder and the German Time Use Survey of 2001-02 to show that public holidays have beneficial impacts on social life on normal weekdays and weekends. Since these benefits are additional to the other benefits of holidays, it suggests that there is a case to be made for more public holidays.
    Keywords: public holidays, social contacts, social leisure time, time allocation, time use diaries, German Time Budget Survey 2001/02
    JEL: J22 I31 Z13 H40
    Date: 2006–04
  8. By: Dominique Goux (INSEE); Eric Maurin (PSE, CEPR and IZA Bonn)
    Abstract: Children’s outcomes are strongly correlated with those of their neighbours. The extent to which this is causal is the subject of an extensive literature. An identification problem exists because people with similar characteristics are observed to live in close proximity. Another major difficulty is that neighbourhoods measured in available data are often considerably larger than those which matter for outcomes (i.e. close neighbours). Several institutional features of France enable us to address these problems. We find that an adolescent’s performance at the end of junior high-school are strongly influenced by the performance of other adolescents in the neighbourhood.
    Keywords: neighborhood effects on education
    JEL: I21 J24
    Date: 2006–04
  9. By: Jakobsen, Morten (Department of Business Studies)
    Abstract: This paper focuses on which characteristics managers take into account when they choose <p> and evaluate business partners, and the interrelationship between the constructs trust, control <p> and information. The paper is based on a survey which includes 101 small and middle-sized <p> manufacturing companies in Denmark. The results show that managers frequently express <p> that trust is an important aspect of a good relationship. Also product-related attributes and <p> relational attributes have a bearing in a network setting. On the other hand, no significant <p> correlation between neither trust and control nor trust and information is found. The findings <p> indicate that the three constructs are relevant, and the level of embeddedness is found to <p> influence both the absolute and the relative importance of the three constructs, and thereby <p> the role of management accounting at different development stages of relationships
    Keywords: Trust; management of networks; embeddedness; survey
    Date: 2006–04–26
  10. By: Nicoletta Corrocher (CESPRI, Bocconi University); Roberto Fontana (University of Pavia and CESPRI)
    Abstract: We provide evidence on the influence of expectations and network effects on the timing of technological adoption. By considering a sample of SMEs operating in Italy we focus on the determinants of their decision to adopt Fast Ethernet, a communication standard for Local Area Networks (LANs). We find that both expectations and network effects significantly affect the timing of adoption. In particular, price expectations generally tend to delay adoption and (indirect) network effects in the form of backward compatibility as well as informational spillovers tend to foster adoption. Firm size also matters.
    Keywords: diffusion, network effects, expectations, LAN equipment, SMEs
    JEL: O33 L63
    Date: 2006–04–19
  11. By: Diana Petkova (Sofia University ‘St. Kliment Ohridski’)
    Abstract: This paper shares the approach of social constructivism, and maintains that diversity should be examined not ‘par excellence’, as an entity in itself, but as reflected in people’s minds and expressed in their attitudes and perceptions. On the basis of an empirical Bulgarian-Finnish intercultural research the paper states that diversity is not essential, given and unproblematic. Rather, it undergoes constant evolution. What is considered now ‘different’ can in future be seen as more or less ‘similar’. The informants characterized people with a religious, ethnic or racial background, other than theirs, as ‘distant’ and ‘different’, while people belonging to groups with the same origin were designated as ‘similar’ and ‘close’. This means that cultural diversity can also be translated into a social-psychological distance. Thus diversity is context-bound and cultural groups are always seen and appraised from the perspective of one’s own particular cultural paradigm.
    Keywords: Diversity, ‘Self’, ‘Other’, Attitudes, Perceptions
    JEL: Z
    Date: 2006–04
  12. By: Zekeriya Eser; Joe Peek
    Date: 2006–03
  13. By: Thierry Baudassé (LEO - Laboratoire d'économie d'Orleans - - [CNRS : UMR6221] - [Université d'Orléans] - [])
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is to study the relation between governance and migration in the case of a South-North partnership, using the tools of economic analysis. We will analyse both the governance of migratory phenomenon (i.e. the control of South-North migration, as much as the control of rural-urban or internal migration) and the consequences of internal and/or international migrations on a broader problem which is the compatibility of economic liberalization, political stability and other objectives which are pursued by governments (such as avoiding the deterioration of social capital, or a social dumping). In a first section we develop an original Harris-Todaro model in order to resolve the question of the compatibility of different policies. In a second section we will consider four possibilities to enrich the Harris-Todaro model, which are to take into account the cost of migration, the attitude toward risk, the relative deprivation hypothesis, and the relation between migration and social capital. In each case, our attention will be focused on the policy recommendations we can formulate as a result of every approach.
    Keywords: rural-urban migration; international migration; agricultural liberalization; social capital
    Date: 2006–04–19
  14. By: Hanming Fang (Cowles Foundation, Yale University); Peter Norman
    Abstract: This paper shows that linking a sufficiently large number of independent but unrelated social decisions can achieve approximate efficiency. We provide regularity conditions under which a Groves mechanism amended with a veto game implements an efficient outcome with probability arbitrarily close to one, and satisfies interim participation, incentive and resource constraints.
    Keywords: Linking, Participation Constraints, Groves Mechanisms, Veto Power
    JEL: D61 D82 H41
    Date: 2005–05
  15. By: Roberto Alzetta (University College London UCL)
    Abstract: It is a largely accepted idea that complexity and recent global phenomena have generated a multi-layered diversification process in Western societies. Migration phenomena are largely responsible for this process both in receiving European societies as well as in original sending countries. Migration has been and continues to be a ubiquitous human experience. Yet, while this fact has aided the understanding of the world as something other than a mosaic of distinct cultural spaces with clearly demarcated borders, it has not decreased the incomprehension, fear and suspicion with which non–European migrants are often greeted within the industrialised cities of Europe. This article deals with one aspect of this process that seems to be quite underestimated in media, public opinion and academia. It is the idea that “ethnicity” can be approached, explored and investigated as a heterogeneous and multi-faced form of diversity itself. This is what can be defined as “diversities within diversity”. Departing from the presentation of an empirical research in Genoa it will be possible to analyse these phenomena at two different levels: namely, in terms of methods and methodology. By focusing on the idea of livelihood and employing an approach based on “Tracing” techniques, different ways of acting and being Moroccan migrants in Genoa will be revealed, presented and discussed. This method newly integrates both quantitative and qualitative information. It will allow us to analyse the experience of livelihood in a way that will reveal the simultaneous existence of many underlying different invisible and unconscious social constructions as well as visible concrete and conscious expressions of everyday life. Disclosing how the same people in the same local context produce different “adaptive” strategies and lifestyles will lead to outline a potential conceptual methodological framework of reference based on an open/close principle. In this case ideas of openness and closeness will be assumed in a dialectical double-faced process. It is not only a matter of how systems can be defined open or closed by themselves, but also how the encounter and interplay of many different systems – generation of diversity - establish the conditions and limits within which different individuals can reproduce their culture as social actors- production of diversities. After having discussed the methodological implications of this approach it will be possible to draw some final theoretical considerations. If we believe that new ways of investigating social phenomena are a determinant in the way we describe, analyze, explain and understand their complexity, we should recognize that not only theory might generate and define what we call social reality but also vice-versa. Approaching the world out there in new ways might result in rethinking and adjusting the conceptual taxonomies that drive social scholars in their search for gaining and catching social reality. This principle becomes crucial if we want social sciences to be heuristically oriented, in other words if we want to develop the capacity to hand back positive analytical readings and comparisons of social phenomena as well as useful recommendations for policy makers.
    Keywords: Migration, Italy, Morocco, Methodology, Tracing, Open/close Model
    JEL: F22 O15 J15 O18
    Date: 2006–04

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