nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2008‒04‒29
fourteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
University of Rome, La Sapienza

  1. Social Movements as Agents of Innovation: Citizen Journalism in South Korea By Thomas Kern; Sang-hui Nam
  2. National Cultures and Soccer Violence By Edward Miguel; Sebastián M. Saiegh; Shanker Satyanath
  3. The economics of Communist Party membership - The Curious case of rising numbers and wage premium during China’s transition By Appleton, Simon; Song , Lina; Knight, John; Xia, Qingjie
  4. Productivity effects of innovation, stress and social relations. By Rifka Weehuizen; Bulat Sanditov; Robin Cowan
  5. Microstructure of Collaboration: The 'Social Network' of Open Source Software By Fershtman, Chaim; Gandal, Neil
  6. Is obesity contagious?: social networks vs. environmental factors in the obesity epidemic By Ethan Cohen-Cole; Jason M. Fletcher
  7. Determinants of Managerial Values on Corporate Social Responsibility: Evidence from China By Zu, Liangrong; Song, Lina
  8. Links and Architecture in Village Networks By Krishnan, Pramila; Sciubba, Emanuela
  9. Happiness and health: two paradoxes By Simone Borghesi; Alessandro Vercelli
  10. Adam Smith and the Family By Sebastiano Nerozzi; Pierluigi Nuti
  11. Social Preferences and Public Economics: Mechanism Design when Social Preferences Depend on Incentives By Samuel Bowles; Sung-Ha Hwang
  12. If the Alliance Fits . . . : Innovation and Network Dynamics. By Robin Cowan; Nicolas Jonard
  13. Minimal Social Cues in the Dictator Game By Rigdon, Mary; Ishii, Keiko; Watabe, Motoki; Kitayama, Shinobu
  14. Welfare Stigma or Information Sharing? Decomposing Social Interactions Effects in Social Benefit Use By Ethan Cohen-Cole; Giulio Zanella

  1. By: Thomas Kern (GIGA Institute of Asian Studies); Sang-hui Nam (GIGA Institute of Asian Studies)
    Abstract: This article aims to further develop the field of innovation studies by exploring the emergence of citizen journalism in South Korea’s social movement sector. To achieve this aim, the framework of innovation theory has been extended to innovations in social fields beyond technology and the economy. Our findings show that the emergence of citizen journalism resulted from brokerage activities among journalists, labor and unification activists, and progressive intellectuals. Despite different cultural visions and structural interests, these groups succeeded in building coalitions and constituted a sociocultural milieu which promoted reciprocal learning by allowing actors to realize new ideas and to exchange experiences. The empirical part of the study is based on a social network analysis of social movement groups and alternative media organizations active in South Korea between 1995 and 2002.
    Keywords: Innovation, citizen journalism, social movement, civil sphere, social network, democratization
    Date: 2008–04
  2. By: Edward Miguel; Sebastián M. Saiegh; Shanker Satyanath
    Abstract: Can some acts of violence be explained by a society's "culture"? Scholars have found it hard to empirically disentangle the effects of culture, legal institutions, and poverty in driving violence. We address this problem by exploiting a natural experiment offered by the presence of thousands of international soccer (football) players in the European professional leagues. We find a strong relationship between the history of civil conflict in a player's home country and his propensity to behave violently on the soccer field, as measured by yellow and red cards. This link is robust to region fixed effects, country characteristics (e.g., rule of law, per capita income), player characteristics (e.g., age, field position, quality), outliers, and team fixed effects. Reinforcing our claim that we isolate cultures of violence rather than simple rule-breaking or something else entirely, there is no meaningful correlation between a player's home country civil war history and soccer performance measures not closely related to violent conduct.
    JEL: K0 O57 Z1
    Date: 2008–04
  3. By: Appleton, Simon; Song , Lina; Knight, John; Xia, Qingjie
    Abstract: Why is it that, as the Chinese Communist Party has loosened its grip, abandoned its core beliefs, and marketized the economy, its membership has risen markedly along with the economic benefits of joining? We use three national household surveys, spanning eleven years, to answer this question with respect to labour market rewards in urban China. We conceptualize individual demand for Party membership as an investment in “political capital” that brings monetary rewards in terms of higher wages. This wage premium has risen with the growing wage differentials associated with the emergence of a labour market and the continuing value of political status in the semi-marketized transitional economy. However, a demand-side explanation does not explain the fact that the wage premium is higher for the personal characteristics that reduce the probability of membership. We develop an explanation in terms of a rationing of places and a scarcity value for members with those characteristics.
    Keywords: China; Communist Party; labour market; economic transition; wages
    JEL: J08 J31
    Date: 2006
  4. By: Rifka Weehuizen; Bulat Sanditov; Robin Cowan
    Abstract: Innovation is a source of increasing productivity, but it is also a source of stress. Psychological research shows that moderate stress increases the productivity of an actor, but above a certain level, additional stress decreases productivity. Stress is reduced by coping behaviour of the actor, and in addition it is buffered by social relations. However, high levels of stress negatively affect social relations, causing social erosion. In a formal model including inter-agent dynamics, we show that the variables moderating stress levels are of crucial importance for identi- fying the overall effects of different rates of innovation on productivity. The model shows among other things that the existence and nature of relationships of people determine the extent to which a certain rate of innovation effectively results in increasing productivity. In addition, it shows the possibility of multiple equilibria - under some parameter values both high- and low-stress steady states exist; and the dynamics exhibit hysteresis. At very high levels of stress, innovation can result in a dissolution of social relations, and has a negative relationship with the rate of economic growth.
    Date: 2008
  5. By: Fershtman, Chaim; Gandal, Neil
    Abstract: The open source model is a form of software development with source code that is typically made available to all interested parties. At the core of this process is a decentralized production process: open source software development is done by a network of unpaid software developers. Using data from, the largest repository of Open Source Software (OSS) projects and contributors on the Internet, we construct two related networks: A Project network and a Contributor network. Knowledge spillovers may be closely related to the structure of such networks, since contributors who work on several projects likely exchange information and knowledge. Defining the number of downloads as output we finds that (i) additional contributors are associated with an increase in output, but that additional contributors to projects in the giant component are associated with greater output gains than additional contributors to projects outside of the giant component; (ii) Betweenness centrality of the project is positively associated with the number of downloads. (iii) Closeness centrality of the project appears also to be positively associated with downloads, but the effect is not statistically significant over all specifications. (iv) Controlling for the correlation between these two measures of centrality (betweenness and closeness), the degree is not positively associated with the number of downloads. (v) The average closeness centrality of the contributors that participated in a project is positively correlated with the success of the project. These results suggest that there are positive spillovers of knowledge for projects occupying critical junctures in the information flow. When we define projects as connected if and only if they had at least two contributors in common, we again find that additional contributors are associated with an increase in output, and again find that this increase is much higher for projects with strong ties than other projects in the giant component.
    Keywords: Microstructure of Collaboration; network; open source
    JEL: L17
    Date: 2008–04
  6. By: Ethan Cohen-Cole; Jason M. Fletcher
    Abstract: This note’s aim is to investigate the sensitivity of Christakis and Fowler’s claim (NEJM July 26, 2007) that obesity has spread through social networks. It is well known in the economics literature that failure to include contextual effects can lead to spurious inference on “social network effects.” We replicate the NEJM results using their specification and a complementary dataset. We find that point estimates of the “social network effect” are reduced and become statistically indistinguishable from zero once standard econometric techniques are implemented. We further note the presence of estimation bias resulting from use of an incorrectly specified dynamic model.
    Keywords: Obesity
    Date: 2008
  7. By: Zu, Liangrong; Song, Lina
    Abstract: This paper empirically investigates how Chinese executives and managers perceive and interpret corporate social responsibility (CSR), to what extent firms’ productive characteristics influence managers’ attitudes towards their CSR rating, and whether their values in favour of CSR are positively correlated to firms’ economic performance. Although a large proportion of respondents express a favourable view of CSR and a willingness to participate in socially responsible activities, we find that the true nature of their assertion is linked to entrepreneurs’ instincts of gaining economic benefits. It is the poorly-performing firms, or rather, firms with vulnerable indicators – smaller in size, State-owned, producing traditional goods and located in poorer regions that are more likely to have managers who opt for a higher CSR rating. Managers’ personal characteristics per se are not significant in determining their CSR choice. Moreover, controlling for other observed variables, we find that managers’ CSR orientation is positively correlated with their firms’ performance. The better-off a firm is, the more likely its manager is to get involve in CSR activities. Firms with better economic performance before their restructuring would sustain higher post-restructuring performance.
    Keywords: corporate social responsibility; profit maximisation; China
    JEL: M14 M21
    Date: 2008
  8. By: Krishnan, Pramila; Sciubba, Emanuela
    Abstract: In this paper we test the implications of a model of network formation on data from rural Ethiopia. In contrast to the current literature, we demonstrate the critical role of both number of links and architecture in determining the impact of social networks on outcomes. Social capital matters, but its impact differs by the architecture of the network to which one belongs.
    Keywords: Endogenous network formation; rural institutions; social networks
    JEL: D85 O12 O17 Z13
    Date: 2008–04
  9. By: Simone Borghesi; Alessandro Vercelli
    Abstract: This paper aims to establish systematic relationships between the two rapidly growing research streams on the socio-economic determinants of happiness and health. Although they have been pursued quite independently by different communities of researchers, empirical evidence points to very similar underlying causal mechanisms. In particular, in both cases per capita income plays a major role only up to a very low threshold, beyond which relative income and other relational factors become crucial for happiness and health. In addition, we argue that the so-called “paradox of happiness”, extensively discussed in the first research stream, has an empirical counterpart in the decoupling between self-reported happiness and health indexes: while life expectancy grew almost continuously in developed countries after World War II, self reported happiness did not increase and sometimes even decreased. On the basis of these structural analogies, we argue that a process of cross-fertilization between these two research streams would contribute to their development by clarifying the relationship between happiness, health and their determinants. Finally, we observe that the two literatures have converging policy implications: measures meant to reduce poverty and inequality and invest in social and environmental capital may improve both health and happiness of the individuals.
    Keywords: happiness, health, happiness paradox, poverty, inequality, relational goods.
    JEL: D6 I10 I18 I31 O15
    Date: 2007–12
  10. By: Sebastiano Nerozzi (University of Palermo, Dipartimento di Studi su Politica, Diritto e Società); Pierluigi Nuti
    Abstract: This paper examines Adam Smith’s vision of family life and the role of the family in society as it stems from the Theory of Moral Sentiments. We first discuss textual evidences of Smith’s vision of gender differences and of the relationships between the sexes. Then we turn to TMS’s analysis of marriage and family life, exploring the importance of sentiments in strengthening family bonds and in fostering individuals’ moral education. Then we enlarge our perspective, considering Smith’s view on the role of the family within society, especially as market and non market relationships are concerned. Finally, we focus on Smith’s vision of the possible threats which life in Commercial societies may impose to family life, loosening parental ties and weakening those fellow-feelings which, according to Smith, play a paramount role in the moral education and proper behaviour of individuals in a free society. On the whole this paper acts as a first step in a wider project which includes the Wealth of Nations and focuses especially on economic issues regarding family life.
    Keywords: Adam Smith; Moral Philosophy; Family; Gender; Education.
    JEL: A B12 B31 I J16
    Date: 2008
  11. By: Samuel Bowles; Sung-Ha Hwang
    Abstract: Social preferences such as altruism, reciprocity, intrinsic motivation and a desire to uphold ethical norms are essential to good government, often facilitating socially desirable allocations that would be unattainable by incentives that appeal solely to self-interest. But experimental and other evidence indicates that conventional economic incentives and social preferences may be either complements or substitutes, explicit incentives crowding in or crowding out social preferences. We investigate the design of optimal incentives to contribute to a public good under these conditions. We identify cases in which a sophisticated planner cognizant of these non-additive effects would make either more or less use of explicit incentives, by comparison to a naive planner who assumes they are absent
    Keywords: Social preferences, implementation theory, incentive contracts, incomplete contracts
    JEL: D52 D64 H21 H41
    Date: 2008–03
  12. By: Robin Cowan; Nicolas Jonard
    Abstract: Network formation is often said to be driven by social capital considerations. A typical pattern observed in the empirical data on strategic alliances is that of small world networks: dense subgroups of firms interconnected by (few) clique-spanning ties. The typical argument is that there is social capital value both to being embedded in a dense cluster, and to bridging disconnected clusters. In this paper we develop and analyze a simple model of joint innovation where we are able to reproduce these features, based solely on the assumption that successful partnering demands some intermediate amount of similarity between the partners.
    Date: 2008
  13. By: Rigdon, Mary; Ishii, Keiko; Watabe, Motoki; Kitayama, Shinobu
    Abstract: This paper reports results of an incentivized laboratory experiment manipulating an extremely weak social cue in the Dictator Game. Prior to making their decision, we present dictators with a simple visual stimlulus: either three dots in a “watching-eyes” configuration, or three dots in a neutral configuration. The watching-eyes configuration is suggestive of a schematic face—a stimuli that is known to weakly activate the fusiform face area of the brain (Tong, et al., 2000; Bednar and Miikkulainen, 2003; Johnson and Morton, 1991). Given the experimental evidence for automatic priming of watching eyes of others, it is thus reasonable to hypothesize that even though the social cue is very weak, this activation might be sufficient to produce a significant change in social behavior. Our results demonstrate that such a weak social cue does increase giving behavior—even under conditions of complete anonymity—and this difference in behavior across subjects is entirely explained by differences in the choice behavior of males. In fact, males in our treatment condition, who typically act more selfishly than do females in conditions of complete anonymity, give twice as much to anonymous recipients than females give.
    Keywords: dictator game; social preferences; laboratory experiment; social distance
    JEL: C70 D01 C91
    Date: 2008–03–26
  14. By: Ethan Cohen-Cole; Giulio Zanella
    Abstract: Empirical research has shown that social interactions affect the use of public benefits, thus providing evidence in favor of the idea of “welfare cultures.” In this paper we take the next crucial step by separately identifying the role of social stigma and information sharing in welfare participation, using Census data. We argue that the stigma vs. information distinction has possibly important consequences. Separate identification exploits the asymmetry between association and mere spatial proximity: we asume that while information is transmitted within groups, stigma works across groups as well. We also allow for heterogeneity of social effects across different race-ethnic groups and find non-trivial differences. We find that while the information channel is more important than stigma, White Americans appear to perceive stigma more from otherWhite Americans than by other races, and Black and Hispanic Americans appear to respond principally to stigma from external groups
    Keywords: social interactions, neighborhood effects, welfare stigma
    JEL: I30 Z13
    Date: 2008–03

This nep-soc issue is ©2008 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.
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