nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2007‒10‒27
fourteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
University of Rome, La Sapienza

  1. How much is a friend worth?: directed altruism and enforced reciprocity in social networks By Stephen Leider; Markus M. Möbius; Tanya Rosenblat; Quoc-Anh Do
  2. Measuring social capital with a myograph By Roberto, Censolo; Laila, Craighero; Luciano, Fadiga; Giovanni, Ponti; Leonzio, Rizzo
  3. Group Size and Incentive to Contribute: A Natural Experiment at Chinese Wikipedia By Xiaoquan (Michael) Zhang; Feng Zhu;
  4. The Scope of Cooperation: Values and incentives By Tabellini, Guido
  5. Network Formation in the Political Blogosphere. An Application of Agent Based Simulation and e-Research Tools By Ackland, Robert; Shorish, Jamsheed
  6. Trust and Reputation in Internet Auctions By Andreas Diekmann; Ben Jann; David Wyder
  7. La responsabilidad social de la empresa a la luz de la ética By Argandoña, Antonio
  8. Responsabilidad social de la empresa: ¿Qué modelo económico? ¿Qué modelo de empresa? By Argandoña, Antonio
  9. Oligarchic Versus Democratic Societies By Daron Acemoglu
  10. New light on von Neumann: politics, psychology and the creation of game theory By Leonard Robert
  11. Patents and Antitrust: Video Games and Violent Crime By Michael R. Ward; ;
  12. Does the Welfare State Affect Individual Attitudes towards Immigrants? Evidence Across Countries By Giovanni Facchini; Anna Maria Mayda
  13. Network Economics and the Digital Divide in Rural India By Jake Kendall; Nirvikar Singh; Kristin Williams; Yan Zhou; P.D. Kaushik
  14. The Changing Role of Family Income and Ability in Determining Educational Achievement By Philippe Belley; Lance Lochner

  1. By: Stephen Leider; Markus M. Möbius; Tanya Rosenblat; Quoc-Anh Do
    Abstract: We conduct field experiments in a large real-world social network to examine why decision-makers treat their friends more generously than strangers. Subjects are asked to divide a surplus between themselves and named partners at varying social distances, but only one of these decisions is implemented. We decompose altruistic preferences into baseline altruism towards strangers, and directed altruism towards friends. In order to separate the motives that are altruistic from the ones that anticipate a future interaction or repayment, we implement an anonymous treatment in which neither player is told at the end of the experiment which decision was selected for payment, and a non-anonymous treatment where both players are told the outcome. Moreover, in order to distinguish between different future interaction channels—including signaling one’s propensity to be generous and enforced reciprocity, where the decision-maker grants the partner a favor because she expects it to be repaid in the future—the experiments include games where transfers both increase and decrease social surplus. We find that decision-makers vary widely in their baseline altruism, but pass at least 50 percent more surplus to friends as opposed to strangers when decision-making is anonymous. Under non-anonymity, transfers to friends increase by an extra 24 percent relative to strangers, but only in games where transfers increase social surplus. This effect increases with the density of the social network structure between both players. Our findings are well explained by enforced reciprocity, but not by signaling or preference-based reciprocity. We also find that partners’ expectations are well attuned to directed altruism, but that they completely ignore the decision-makers’ baseline altruism. Partners with higher baseline altruism have friends with higher baseline altruism and, therefore, are treated better by their friends.
    Keywords: Altruism
    Date: 2007
  2. By: Roberto, Censolo; Laila, Craighero; Luciano, Fadiga; Giovanni, Ponti; Leonzio, Rizzo
    Abstract: We study the behavior of 12 pairs of undergraduate students while they were involved in a simple coordination game requiring motor interaction. Three experimental conditions were defined according to whether a monetary prize was given to both or only one subject, if the couple was in successfully completing the required assignment. Electromyographic potentials (EMG) were recorded from the right first dorsal interosseus (FDI) muscle, a muscle critically involved in the motor task. We also collected written answers from a standard questionnaire from which we constructed individual measures of Social Capital (SC), based on organized group interaction, religious and political involvement. These measures are collected, by standard practice, to estimate individual pro-social attitudes and behavior. Consistently with our simple behavioral model, by which EMG signals are direct measures of subjects’ personal concern (call it utility) associated to the given task, our evidence shows that EMG is increasing in the subjects’ own monetary reward. When we split the subject pool into two subsamples (according to various measures of Social Capital obtained from the questionnaire), we find that monetary incentives explain the level of subjects’ EMG only in the subsample characterized by low SC, while, for subjects with (comparatively) higher SC, effort in the coordination task is much less sensitive to whether it is directly rewarded or not. This result is robust across the different SC index specifications. The present findings seem to support the possibility that an electrophysiological measure, such as EMG, could reveal the most profound attitudes and believes that guide social interaction, and that our relatively inexpensive and ready-to-use technology can back-up socio-economic research in a very effective way.
    Keywords: NeuroEconomics; Social Capital
    JEL: Z10 C9 Z1 A13 Z13 C90 Z19 Z12 C91
    Date: 2006–06
  3. By: Xiaoquan (Michael) Zhang (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology); Feng Zhu (Havard Business School);
    Abstract: The literature of private provision of public goods suggests that incentive to contribute is inversely related to group size. This paper empirically tests this relationship using field data from Chinese Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia. We exploit an exogenous reduction in group size as a result of the blocking of Wikipedia in mainland China and examine whether individual contributions increase after the block as predicted in the literature. Our result indicates the opposite: individual contribution of unaffected contributors decreases by 42% on average as a result of the block. We attribute the cause to social effects: contributors care about the number of beneficiaries of their contributions. We build a simple model to illustrate how social effects and group size affect individual incentive to contribute. Consistent with our model prediction, we find that the more a contributor values social recognition, the greater the reduction in her contributions after the block. A series of robustness checks appear to support our explanation.
    Keywords: incentive to contribute; group size; public goods; social effects
    JEL: D85 H44 L14 L31 L86
    Date: 2007–09
  4. By: Tabellini, Guido
    Abstract: What explains the range of situations in which individuals cooperate? This paper studies a theoretical model where individuals respond to incentives but are also influenced by norms of good conduct inherited from earlier generations. Parents rationally choose what values to transmit to their offspring, and this choice is influenced by the quality of external enforcement and the pattern of likely future transactions. The equilibrium displays strategic complementarities between values and current behaviour, which reinforce the effects of changes in the external environment. Values evolve gradually over time, and if the quality of external enforcement is chosen under majority rule, there is hysteresis: adverse initial conditions may lead to a unique equilibrium path where external enforcement remains weak and individual values discourage cooperation.
    Keywords: cooperation; cultural transmission; culture; institutions
    JEL: A10 A14
    Date: 2007–10
  5. By: Ackland, Robert (Australian Demographic and Social Institute, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia); Shorish, Jamsheed (Department of Economics and Finance, Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna, Austria)
    Abstract: The political blogosphere has recently been the focus of attention for social network analysis and applications of network and graph theory. In a recent paper, Adamic and Glance (2005) report differences between the linking behavior of politically conservative vs. politically liberal Web bloggers. We construct a simple agent-based network formation model which shows that one such difference, demonstrating what we term ‘political homophily’, can be generated by connecting the blogosphere to the underlying population distribution of political preferences. The model is implemented as a web service in the e-tool VOSON (Virtual Observatory for the Study of Online Networks), and both model and tool serve to define a natural environment for research into link formation behavior with large numbers of heterogeneous network participants.
    Keywords: Network formation, Social network analysis, Blogosphere, VOSON, Agentbased simulation
    JEL: D85 C63 L86
    Date: 2007–10
  6. By: Andreas Diekmann; Ben Jann; David Wyder
    Abstract: Exchange between anonymous actors in Internet auctions corresponds to a one-shot prisoner's dilemma-like situation. Therefore, in any given auction the risk is high that seller and buyer will cheat and, as a consequence, that the market will collapse. However, mutual cooperation can be attained by the simple and very efficient institution of a public rating system. By this system, sellers have incentives to invest in reputation in order to enhance future chances of business. Using data from about 200 auctions of mobile phones we empirically explore the effects of the reputation system. In general, the analysis of nonobtrusive data from auctions may help to gain a deeper understanding of basic social processes of exchange, reputation, trust, and cooperation, and of the impact of institutions on the efficiency of markets. In this study we report empirical estimates of effects of reputation on characteristics of transactions such as the probability of a successful deal, the mode of payment, and the selling price (highest bid). In particular, we try to answer the question whether sellers receive a "premium" for reputation. Our results show that buyers are willing to pay higher prices for reputation in order to diminish the risk of exploitation. On the other hand, sellers protect themselves from cheating buyers by the choice of an appropriate payment mode. Therefore, despite the risk of mutual opportunistic behavior, simple institutional settings lead to cooperation, relatively rare events of fraud, and efficient markets.
    Keywords: trust, reputation, auctions, electronic markets, feedback mechanisms, price premiums, information asymmetry
    JEL: C24 D44 D82 L14 L86
    Date: 2004–01
  7. By: Argandoña, Antonio (IESE Business School)
    Abstract: La responsabilidad social de la empresa es un concepto en auge, pero sometido a fuertes críticas y, sobre todo, que adolece de una debilidad fundamental: carece todavía de un concepto generalmente aceptado, lo que la convierte en una amalgama de propuestas basadas en teorías éticas, sociológicas y económicas, a menudo incompatibles entre sí. Este artículo parte, primero, de diferentes modelos de la organización o de la empresa y de la idea de responsabilidad implícita en los mismos; analiza luego el concepto de responsabilidad, como categoría moral, y discute, finalmente, el significado y contenido de la responsabilidad social de la empresa.
    Keywords: Ética; Responsabilidad legal; Responsabilidad moral; Responsabilidad social;
    Date: 2007–09–13
  8. By: Argandoña, Antonio (IESE Business School)
    Abstract: La variedad de concepciones de lo que es una empresa tiene su reflejo en la falta de acuerdo sobre las responsabilidades sociales de la misma. En este artículo se presentan tres modelos o paradigmas de empresa, en que cada uno aporta supuestos antropológicos más completos que el anterior, lo que permite perfilar cada vez mejor los objetivos de la empresa y las reglas de funcionamiento de la misma. Sobre esta base, se discuten distintos puntos de vista sobre la responsabilidad social de la empresa, y se señalan las condiciones que debe reunir una verdadera definición de las mismas.
    Keywords: Antropología; Ética; Modelos empresa; Responsabilidad Social Corporativa; Responsabilidad Social de la Empresa;
    Date: 2007–09–13
  9. By: Daron Acemoglu
    Abstract: This paper develops a model to analyze economic performance under different political regimes. An oligarchic society, where political power is in the hands of major producers, protects their property rights, but also tends to erect significant entry barriers against new entrepreneurs. Democracy, where political power is more widely di used, imposes redistributive taxes on producers, but tends to avoid entry barriers. When taxes in democracy are high and the distortions caused by entry barriers are low, an oligarchic society achieves greater efficiency. Nevertheless, because comparative advantage in entrepreneurship shifts away from the incumbents, the inefficiency created by entry barriers in oligarchy deteriorates over time. The typical pattern is therefore one of rise and decline of oligarchic societies: of two otherwise identical societies, the one with an oligarchic organization will first become richer, but later fall behind the democratic society. I also discuss how democratic societies may be better able to take advantage of new technologies, how an oligarchic society might transition to democracy because of within-elite conflict, and how the unequal distribution of income in oligarchy supports the oligarchic institutions and may keep them in place even when they become significantly costly to society.
    Keywords: democracy, economic growth, entry barriers, oligarchy, political economy, redistribution, sclerosis.
    JEL: P16 O10
    Date: 2007
  10. By: Leonard Robert
    Date: 2007–07
  11. By: Michael R. Ward (University of Texas, Arlington); ;
    Abstract: Psychology studies of the effects of playing video games have found emotional responses and physical reactions associated with reinforced violent and anti-social attitudes. It is not clear, however, whether these markers are associated with increases in one's preferences for anti-social behaviors or whether virtual behaviors act to partially sate one's desire for actual antisocial behaviors. Violent or criminal behaviors in the virtual world and in the physical world could plausibly be either complements or substitutes. A finding of one versus the other would have diametrically opposing policy implications. I study the incidence of criminal activity as related to a proxy for increased gaming, the number of game stores, from a panel of US counties from 1994 to 2004. With fixed county and year effects, I can examine if changes relative increases in gaming in an area are associated with relative increases or decreases in criminal activity. For six of eight categories of crime, more game stores are associated with significant declines in crime rates. Proxies for other leisure activities, sports and movie viewing, do not have a similar effect. For confirmation, I also find that mortality rates, especially mortality rates stemming from injuries, also are negatively related to the number of game stores.
    Keywords: Video Games, Violence, Crime
    JEL: L86 D18 I18
    Date: 2007–09
  12. By: Giovanni Facchini; Anna Maria Mayda
    Abstract: This paper analyzes welfare-state determinants of individual attitudes towards immigrants - within and across countries - and their interaction with labor-market drivers of preferences. We consider two different mechanisms through which a redistributive welfare system might adjust as a result of immigration. In the first model, immigration has a larger impact on individuals at the top of the income distribution, while under the second model it is low-income individuals who are most affected through this channel. Individual attitudes are consistent with the first welfare-state model and with labor-market determinants of immigration attitudes. In countries where natives are on average more skilled than immigrants, individual income is negatively correlated with pro-immigration preferences, while individual skill is positively correlated with them. These relationships have the opposite signs in economies characterized by skilled migration (relative to the native population). These results are confirmed when we exploit international differences in the characteristics of destination countries' welfare state.
    Date: 2007–10–14
  13. By: Jake Kendall (University of California Santa Cruz); Nirvikar Singh (University of California Santa Cruz); Kristin Williams (University of California Santa Cruz); Yan Zhou (California State University, Sacramento); P.D. Kaushik (Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies)
    Abstract: The idea of a ‘global digital divide’ is well accepted, and cross-country studies of determinants of differences in computer and Internet penetration have identified income, telecommunications infrastructure, and regulatory quality as key influencing factors. The policy implications from these studies are relatively blunt: get richer, have more telephones, and regulate telecommunications better. In this paper, we examine an alternative policy approach to bridging the digital divide, through organizational innovations that provide low cost Internet access in developing countries, within the existing levels of income, telecommunications infrastructure and regulatory environment. We use survey data from 500 individuals in four states of India: Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan, to examine factors influencing patterns of computer and Internet use. The situations in which data was collected were ones where computer and Internet access was being provided by a developmental agency (government or non-government). We estimate logit and multinomial logit models, using explanatory variables such as income, household size, education, and occupation, as well as infrastructure factors such as quality of electricity supply, and availability of telephones and televisions. Thus we are able to go beyond simple analyses of penetration at the country level, to understand the microeconomics of computer and Internet use in rural India. In particular, by examining patterns of use, we are able to comment on the importance of network externalities for diffusion of computers and the Internet in these local rural contexts.
    Keywords: IT, ITC, Internet, India, Development, Digital Divide
    JEL: L86 O1
    Date: 2007–09
  14. By: Philippe Belley; Lance Lochner
    Abstract: This paper uses data from the 1979 and 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth cohorts (NLSY79 and NLSY97) to estimate changes in the effects of ability and family income on educational attainment for youth in their late teens during the early 1980s and early 2000s. Cognitive ability plays an important role in determining educational outcomes for both NLSY cohorts, while family income plays little role in determining high school completion in either cohort. Most interestingly, we document a dramatic increase in the effects of family income on college attendance (particularly among the least able) from the NLSY79 to the NLSY97. Family income has also become a much more important determinant of college 'quality' and hours/weeks worked during the academic year (the latter among the most able) in the NLSY97. Family income has little effect on college delay in either sample. To interpret our empirical findings on college attendance, we develop an educational choice model that incorporates both borrowing constraints and a 'consumption' value of schooling - two of the most commonly invoked explanations for a positive family income - schooling relationship. Without borrowing constraints, the model cannot explain the rising effects of family income on college attendance in response to the sharply rising costs and returns to college experienced from the early 1980s to early 2000s: the incentives created by a 'consumption' value of schooling imply that income should have become less important over time (or even negatively related to attendance). Instead, the data are more broadly consistent with the hypothesis that more youth are borrowing constrained today than were in the early 1980s.
    JEL: H52 I2 J24
    Date: 2007–10

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