nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2006‒09‒23
nineteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Universita degli Studi di Roma, La Sapienza

  1. Trust as a Signal of a Social Norm and the Hidden Costs of Incentive Schemes By Dirk Sliwka
  2. Individual’s religiosity enhances trust: Latin American evidence for the puzzle By Pablo Brañas-Garza; Máximo Rossi; Dayna Zaclicever
  3. Contacts, Social Capital and Market Institutions - A Theory of Development By Paul Frijters; Dirk Bezemer; Uwe Dulleck
  5. Shocks, livestock asset dynamics and social capital in Ethiopia By Mogues, Tewodaj
  6. Notas panorámicas de la literatura sobre capital social y desarrollo: el papel de la religión By Máximo Rossi; Dayna Zaclicever
  7. Institution Formation in Public Goods Games By Michael Kosfeld; Akira Okada; Arno Riedl
  8. Human Capital and Ethnic Self-Identification of Migrants By Laura Zimmermann; Liliya Gataullina; Amelie Constant; Klaus F. Zimmermann
  9. Dragging developers towards the core. How the Free/Libre/Open Source Software community enhances developers’ contribution By Francesco Rullani
  10. An Experimental Test of Criminal Behavior Among Juveniles and Young Adults By Michael S. Visser; William T. Harbaugh; Naci H. Mocan
  11. Peers at Work By Alexandre Mas; Enrico Moretti
  12. An experiment on corruption and gender By Fernanda Rivas
  13. Attitudes Towards Immigration: Does Economic Self-Interest Matter? By Nikolaj Malchow-Møller; Jakob Roland Munch; Sanne Schroll; Jan Rose Skaksen
  14. Migration and innovation : does cultural diversity matter for regional R&D activity? By Niebuhr, Annekatrin
  15. The Effect of Rewards and Sanctions in Provision of Public Goods By Martin Sefton; Robert Shupp; James M. Walker
  16. When Does One Bad Apple Spoil the Barrel? An Evolutionary Analysis of Collective Action By David P. Myatt; Chris Wallace
  17. What We Research in Social Sciences: Is Homo Oeconomicus Dead? By Kaire Põder
  18. Non-Profit Firms and the Provision of Durable Goods By Gregory E. Goering
  19. Blogs, wikis and creative innovation By John Quiggin

  1. By: Dirk Sliwka (University of Cologne and IZA Bonn)
    Abstract: An explanation for motivation crowding-out phenomena is developed in a social preferences framework. Besides selfish and fair or altruistic types a third type of agents is introduced: These ‘conformists' have social preferences if they believe that sufficiently many of the others do too. When there is asymmetric information about the distribution of preferences (the `social norm'), the incentive scheme offered or autonomy granted can reveal a principal's beliefs about that norm. High-powered incentives may crowd out motivation as pessimism about the norm is conveyed. But by choosing fixed wages or granting autonomy the principal may signal trust in a favorable social norm.
    Keywords: social preferences, incentives, intrinsic motivation, motivation crowding-out, social norms, trust, conformity, selection
    JEL: M52 J33 D23
    Date: 2006–09
  2. By: Pablo Brañas-Garza (Universidad de Granada); Máximo Rossi (Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de la República); Dayna Zaclicever (Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de la República)
    Abstract: This paper explores the effect of religious observance and affiliation to the dominant religion (Catholicism) on trust in institutions, towards others and market attitudes. The analysis is performed using a Latin American database of twenty thousand respondents from 2004 by means of ordered probit models. The most interesting results are: i) Trust toward others is positively correlated with religious observance and with Catholic affiliation. ii) There is a positive correlation between trust in the government, in the police, in the armed forces, in the judiciary and in the banking system and religious practice in general. Identical positive results are obtained for Catholic affiliation. iii) Correlations with attitudes toward the market, in general, are heterogeneous but never negative. In sum, individual’s level of religiosity crucially affects trust in institutions and toward peers. We also found that Catholicism encourages both trust in institutions and towards others. Thus, we found a positive effect of “religiosity” on social capital. In fact, we never found any negative (and significant) effect on the variables considered.
    Keywords: trust in institutions, economic behavior, religious practise, Catholics.
    JEL: Z12 Z13
    Date: 2006–05
  3. By: Paul Frijters; Dirk Bezemer; Uwe Dulleck (School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology)
    Abstract: We propose an endogenous growth model, that incorporates both an individual and a communal aspect of Social Capital. In our model, output increases with the stock of business contacts (Relational Capital as one aspect of Social Capital). The modelling of contact creation is based on matching theory. The cost of creating contacts decreases with more Community level Social Capital and Market Institutions.
    Keywords: Social Capital, Endogenous Growth, Relational Capital, Development, Economic Systems
    Date: 2005
  4. By: Jim Engle-Warnick; Andreas Leibbrandt
    Abstract: We alter who gets the last word on the outcome in three different types of trust games: the first mover the second mover, or, a committee comprised of first and second movers. The committee functions in a manner similar to a peer review process, in which experienced subjects pass judgment on the outcome reached by a different pair of subjects. Surprisingly, giving the first mover the last word benefits the second mover. Letting the committee decided increaes the first mover's trust. And first and second movers pass different types of judgments when they act as a committee. Length 29 pages
    JEL: C92
    Date: 2006–09
  5. By: Mogues, Tewodaj
    Abstract: "This paper uses household survey panel data of 416 rural households to study livestock asset dynamics in the north-east of Ethiopia. The period under examination (1996-2003) was marked by severe environmental shocks, including a series of droughts. Using as point of departure the literature on the evolution of productive assets in the presence of risk, which relates asset paths to initial endowments, we test the hypothesis of wealth divergence and the existence of asset poverty traps. Results indicate rather that livestock asset dynamics are marked by convergence over time. Examining the role of social capital in recovery and growth of households' endowments, both local social relationships as well as ‘bridging' social capital seem to have a positive effect on asset holdings directly, as well as indirectly by mitigating the impact of income shocks on livestock capital." Authors' Abstract
    Keywords: livestock, Household surveys, Environmental disasters, Poverty, assets, Social capital, Droughts,
    Date: 2006
  6. By: Máximo Rossi (Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de la República); Dayna Zaclicever (Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de la República)
    Abstract: In recent years empirical research about economic growth’s determinants has tended to incorporate political and social factors as explanatory variables, motivated by the evidence arisen from traditional analysis that the differences in countries’ economic performance can not be explained based only on economic factors. One stream of this branch of investigation considers the role of culture, from which religion is an important component. A second line of investigation, related with the previous one, has to do with the role in economic development of what is called “social capital”. Although these new approaches of investigation has strongly developed, in countries like ours the role of social capital, religion and other measures of “culture” has usually been ignored in empirical analysis. For this reason this paper attempts to contribute to the discussion of these topics presenting the main antecedents of these new approaches and analyzing the current state of the investigation about them.
    Keywords: social capital, economic behavior, religious practise.
    JEL: Z12 Z13 O12
    Date: 2006–08
  7. By: Michael Kosfeld (University of Zurich and IZA Bonn); Akira Okada (Hitotsubashi University); Arno Riedl (Maastricht University, CESifo and IZA Bonn)
    Abstract: Centralized sanctioning institutions are of utmost importance for overcoming free-riding tendencies and enforcing outcomes that maximize group welfare in social dilemma situations. However, little is known about how such institutions come into existence. In this paper we investigate, both theoretically and experimentally, the endogenous formation of institutions in a public goods game. Our theoretical analysis shows that players may form sanctioning institutions in equilibrium, including those where institutions govern only a subset of players. The experiment confirms that institutions are formed frequently as well as that institution formation has a positive impact on cooperation rates and group welfare. However, the data clearly reveal that players are unwilling to implement institutions in which some players have the opportunity to free ride. In sum, our results show that individuals are willing and able to create sanctioning institutions, but that the institution formation process is guided by behavioral principles not taken into account by standard theory.
    Keywords: public goods, institutions, sanctions, cooperation
    JEL: C72 C92 D72
    Date: 2006–09
  8. By: Laura Zimmermann (University of Oxford and IZA Bonn); Liliya Gataullina (IZA Bonn); Amelie Constant (IZA Bonn, Georgetown University and DIW Berlin); Klaus F. Zimmermann (IZA Bonn, University of Bonn, DIW Berlin and Free University of Berlin)
    Abstract: The paper investigates the role of human capital for migrants' ethnic ties towards their home and host countries. Pre-migration characteristics dominate ethnic self-identification. Human capital acquired in the host country does not affect the attachment to the receiving country.
    Keywords: ethnic self-identification, first-generation migrants, gender, ethnicity, human capital
    JEL: F22 J15 J16 J24 Z10
    Date: 2006–09
  9. By: Francesco Rullani
    Abstract: The paper presents a dynamic perspective on the landscape of Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) developers’ motivations and tries to isolate mechanisms sustaining developers’ contribution over time. The first part of the paper uses data gathered by the empirical studies relative to the FLOSS case to judge the relative importance of each group of incentives detected by the literature. In the second part of the paper, the same data are used to further characterize developers’ motivations in dynamics terms. In particular, the study shows that the relative importance of different incentives do change over time. Drawing inspiration from the literature aimed at explaining these changes, the third part of the paper identifies a specific mechanism fostering developers’ contribution to the community activities, namely that: "Independently of developers’ exogenous preferences, the more their exposure to the FLOSS community social environment, the more their contribution to the community activities". The key point of this hypothesis is that, if the exposure to the FLOSS community social environment is able to foster developers’ contribution beyond the level granted by their predetermined preferences, this leads directly to the evidence that the FLOSS community is provided with a mechanism sustaining and enhancing developers’ incentives to produce and diffuse code. In the last part of the paper, data relative to 14,497 developers working on during two years (2001-2002) are employed to estimate a model testing the aforementioned hypothesis. Endogeneity problems are explicitly accounted for, and robustness checks are performed in order to make sure that the observed confirmation of the hypothesis is actually an empirically grounded result.
    Keywords: Free/Libre/Open Source Software, Incentives to Innovate, Dynamics of Motivations, Cooperation, Community.
    Date: 2006–09–20
  10. By: Michael S. Visser; William T. Harbaugh; Naci H. Mocan
    Abstract: We report results from economic experiments that provide a direct test of the hypothesis that criminal behavior responds rationally to changes in the possible rewards and in the probability and severity of punishment. The experiments involve decisions that are best described as petty larceny, and are done using high school and college students who can anonymously take real money from each other. We find that decisions about whether and how much to steal are, in general, rational and responsive to the variations in tradeoffs, and sometimes, though not always, to the overall availability of criminal opportunities.
    JEL: D64 K42 L11
    Date: 2006–09
  11. By: Alexandre Mas (University of California, Berkeley and NBER); Enrico Moretti (University of California, Berkeley, NBER and IZA Bonn)
    Abstract: We investigate how and why the productivity of a worker varies as a function of the productivity of her co-workers in a group production process. In theory, the introduction of a high productivity worker could lower the effort of incumbent workers because of free riding; or it could increase the effort of incumbent workers because of peer effects induced by social norms, social pressure, or learning. Using scanner level data, we measure high frequency, worker-level productivity of checkers for a large grocery chain. Because of the firm‘s scheduling policy, the timing of within-day changes in personnel is unsystematic, a feature for which we find consistent support in the data. We find strong evidence of positive productivity spillovers from the introduction of highly productive personnel into a shift. A 10% increase in average co-worker permanent productivity is associated with 1.7% increase in a worker’s effort. Most of this peer effect arises from low productivity workers benefiting from the presence of high productivity workers. Therefore, the optimal mix of workers in a given shift is the one that maximizes skill diversity. In order to explain the mechanism that generates the peer effect, we examine whether effort depends on workers’ ability to monitor one another due to their spatial arrangement, and whether effort is affected by the time workers have previously spent working together. We find that a given worker’s effort is positively related to the presence and speed of workers who face him, but not the presence and speed of workers whom he faces (and do not face him). In addition, workers respond more to the presence of co-workers with whom they frequently overlap. These patterns indicate that these individuals are motivated by social pressure and mutual monitoring, and suggest that social preferences can play an important role in inducing effort, even when economic incentives are limited.
    Keywords: spillovers
    Date: 2006–09
  12. By: Fernanda Rivas (Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de la República)
    Abstract: There exists evidence in the social science literature that women may be more relationshiporiented, may have higher standards of ethical behavior and may be more concerned with the common good than men are. This would imply that women are more willing to sacrifice private profit for the public good, and this would be especially important for political life. Many papers with field data have found deference’s in the corrupt activities of males and females, but given their different insertion in the labor market and in politics, it is not clear if the differences are due to differences in opportunities or real gender differences. The aim of this paper is to see if women and men, facing the same situation behave in a different way, as suggested in the field-data studies, or on the contrary, when women are in the same position as men they behave in the same way. The results found in the experiment show that women are indeed less corrupt than men. This suggests that increasing women’s participation in the labor force and politics would help to reduce corruption.
    Keywords: corruption, gender, experiment
    JEL: C91 D73 J16
    Date: 2006–08
  13. By: Nikolaj Malchow-Møller (CEBR and University of Southern Denmark); Jakob Roland Munch (CEBR and University of Copenhagen); Sanne Schroll (CEBR and University of Southern Denmark); Jan Rose Skaksen (CEBR, Copenhagen Business School and IZA Bonn)
    Abstract: In this paper, we re-examine the role of economic self-interest in shaping people’s attitudes towards immigration, using data from the European Social Survey 2002/2003. Compared to the existing literature, there are two main contributions of the present paper. First, we develop a more powerful test of the hypothesis that a positive relationship between education and attitudes towards immigration reflects economic self-interest in the labour market. Second, we develop an alternative and more direct test of whether economic self-interest matters for people’s attitudes towards immigration. We find that while the "original" relationship between education and attitudes found in the literature is unlikely to reflect economic self-interest, there is considerable evidence of economic self-interest when using the more direct test.
    Keywords: attitudes, immigration, economic self-interest
    JEL: F1 F22 J61
    Date: 2006–09
  14. By: Niebuhr, Annekatrin (Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany])
    Abstract: "Recent theoretical research deals with economic costs and benefits of cultural diversity related to immigration. However, empirical evidence regarding the impact of cultural diversity on economic performance is still scarce. This paper investigates the significance of cultural diversity of the workforce on innovation output for a cross-section of German regions. The findings indicate that cultural diversity indeed affects innovative activity. The results suggest that differences in knowledge and capabilities of workers from diverse cultural backgrounds enhance performance of regional R&D sectors. However, education levels are also important. Diversity among highly qualified employees has the strongest impact on innovation output." (author's abstract, IAB-Doku) ((en))
    Keywords: Einwanderung - Auswirkungen, kulturelle Faktoren, Forschung und Entwicklung, Innovationspotenzial, Innovationsfähigkeit, regionale Faktoren, Arbeitskräftestruktur, regionale Herkunft, ausländische Arbeitnehmer, Wissensarbeit, Wissenstransfer, regionale Disparität, Arbeitsmigration - Auswirkungen, Migranten, Qualifikationsniveau, Patente - Quote, regionaler Vergleich
    Date: 2006–08–11
  15. By: Martin Sefton (University of Nottingham); Robert Shupp (Ball State University); James M. Walker (Indiana University Bloomington)
    Abstract: A growing number of field and experimental studies focus on the institutional arrangements by which individuals are able to solve collective action problems. Important in this research is the role of reciprocity and institutions that facilitate cooperation via opportunities for monitoring, sanctioning, and rewarding others. Sanctions represent a cost to both the participant imposing the sanction and the individual receiving the sanction. Rewards represent a zero sum transfer from participants giving to those receiving rewards. We contrast reward and sanction institutions in regard to their impact on cooperation and efficiency in the context of a public goods experiment.
    Date: 2006–07
  16. By: David P. Myatt; Chris Wallace
    Abstract: This paper studies n-player collective-action games in which a public good is produced if and only if m or more volunteers contribute to it. Quantal-response strategy revisions allow play to move between equilibria in which a team of m players successfully provide, and an equilibrium in which the collective action fails. A full characterisation of long-run play reveals the determinants of success. These include the correlation between players` costs of provision and their valuations for the good. The addition of an extra "bad apple" player can "spoil the barrel" by destabilising successful teams. A contemporary application is the team-based provision of open-source software. The analysis reveals the features of successful open-source projects, and suggests a rationale for limiting the pool of possible contributors.
    Keywords: Collective Action, Evolution, Teams, Equilibrium Selection, Concordance, Open-Source Software
    JEL: C72 C73 H41
    Date: 2006
  17. By: Kaire Põder (Tallinn University of Technology)
    Abstract: Transition is not just transition of formal institutions, convergence of price levels and living standards. The closure or the gap in formal institutions is probably less time demanding than the closure of ideological or mental gap, created in many fields in academy or social life. Social sciences have been erased during half a century and post-soviets still struggle for academic prestige of these areas. We have seen many misunderstandings concerning the interrelations, hierarchy and even object of study in social sciences. Superiority of economics is sometimes created by market signals, or superiority of some other discipline by “political signals”. Our aim is to show that in the body of social sciences economics is a normal science which can be defined by method, not by subject matter. We will introduce the alternative methodological approaches to rational choice and indicate their advantages and disadvantages. Mainly two questions are answered. First, is there some alternative methodology which has been more successful in producing efficient predictions and explanations of social affairs? Second, how methodological criticism has changed rational choice perspectives and can these changes be justified? Finally, changes in methodology of economics are discussed showing that there is no clear answer – how to parcel our social sciences?
    Keywords: rational choice, methodology in economics, structuralism
    JEL: B4 B5
    Date: 2006
  18. By: Gregory E. Goering
    Abstract: A simple linear demand two-period durable goods is analyzed where the durable good is provided by private non-profit organization (NPO). A novel flexible objective function is utilized that allows for both the “commercial” and “social concern” aspects of NPOs. The model indicates NPO’s will not typically provide the efficient cost-minimizing durability in sales markets. Indeed, if the NPO cannot credibly commit to its own stakeholders it will manufacture output with less durability than a pure for-profit seller. We show the NPO’s level of commitment ability and social concern with its stakeholders is crucial for determining the amount of “planned obsolescence” that would prevail if NPOs expand into durable goods markets. Interestingly, the social concern commonly cited for the existence of NPOs, is a double edged sword since it may cause more or less product obsolescence.
  19. By: John Quiggin (Department of Economics, University of Queensland)
    Keywords: blogs, internet, innovation
    JEL: O31
    Date: 2006–02

This nep-soc issue is ©2006 by Fabio Sabatini. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.