nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2009‒01‒10
nine papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
University of Siena

  1. Evaluating the impact of social networks in rural innovation systems: An overview By Matuschke, Ira
  2. Theories of the evolution of cooperative behaviour: A critical survey plus some new results By Rowthorn, Robert E.; Guzmán, Ricardo Andrés; Rodríguez-Sickert, Carlos
  3. Reciprocity, culture, and human cooperation: Previous insights and a new cross-cultural experiment By Simon Gaechter; Benedikt Herrmann
  4. Who is relevant? Exploring fertility relevant social networks By Sylvia Keim; Andreas Klärner; Laura Bernardi
  5. Product innovation and firm survival in a network industry By Fumiko Hayashi; Zhu Wang
  6. Social learning, selection, and HIV infection: Evidence from Malawi By Yamauchi, Futoshi; Ueyama, Mika
  7. The economic value of virtue By Fabio Mariani
  8. Bargaining and Trust: The Effects of 36hr Total Sleep Deprivation on Socially Interactive Decisions By Clare Anderson; David L. Dickinson
  9. Democracy and Human Rights in the European-Asian Dialogue: A Clash of Cooperation Cultures? By Howard Loewen

  1. By: Matuschke, Ira
    Abstract: "In light of an increasing focus on new demand-driven extension approaches that aim at accelerating the adoption of innovative technologies by smallholder farmers in developing countries, greater analysis is needed of the role of rural social networks and their impact on technology adoption. This paper contributes to this topic by reviewing selected studies on rural social networks and by outlining a research approach that combines social network analysis with econometric estimation techniques in one coherent framework to strengthen the study of technology adoption by smallholders. If applied, such a framework could help establish which network characteristics have the greatest impact on technology uptake, thereby lending support to and improving the design of new extension approaches." from authors' abstract
    Keywords: Social network analysis, econometric modeling, adoption of innovations, farmer-to-farmer knowledge transfer,
    Date: 2008
  2. By: Rowthorn, Robert E.; Guzmán, Ricardo Andrés; Rodríguez-Sickert, Carlos
    Abstract: Gratuitous cooperation (in favour of non-relatives and without repeated interaction) eludes traditional evolutionary explanations. In this paper we survey the various theories of cooperative behaviour, and we describe our own effort to integrate these theories into a self-contained framework. Our main conclusions are as follows. First: altruistic punishment, conformism and gratuitous cooperation co-evolve, and group selection is a necessary ingredient for the co-evolution to take place. Second: people do not cooperate by mistake, as most theories imply; on the contrary, people knowingly sacrifice themselves for others. Third: in cooperative dilemmas conformism is an expression of preference, not a learning rule. Fourth, group-mutations (e.g., the rare emergence of a charismatic leader that brings order to the group) are necessary to sustain cooperation in the long run.
    Keywords: Cooperation; altruism; altruistic punishment; conformism; group-selection
    JEL: H41 Z13
    Date: 2009–01–04
  3. By: Simon Gaechter (Centre of Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham); Benedikt Herrmann (Centre of Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham)
    Abstract: Understanding the proximate and ultimate sources of human cooperation is a fundamental issue in all behavioural sciences. In this article we review the experimental evidence on how people solve cooperation problems. Existing studies show without doubt that direct and indirect reciprocity are important determinants of successful cooperation. We also discuss the insights from a large literature on the role of peer punishment in sustaining cooperation. The experiments demonstrate that many people are “strong reciprocators” who are willing to cooperate and punish others even if there are no gains from future cooperation or any other reputational gains. We document this in new one-shot experiments which we conducted in four cities in Russia and Switzerland. Our crosscultural approach allows us furthermore to investigate how the cultural background influences strong reciprocity. Our results show that culture has a strong influence on positive and in especially negative strong reciprocity. In particular, we find large crosscultural differences in “antisocial punishment” of pro-social co-operators. Further crosscultural research and experiments involving different socio-demographic groups document that antisocial punishment is much more widespread than previously assumed. Understanding antisocial punishment is an important task for future research because antisocial punishment is a strong inhibitor of cooperation.
    Keywords: human cooperation; strong reciprocity; public goods experiments; culture; antisocial punishment
    Date: 2008–12
  4. By: Sylvia Keim (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany); Andreas Klärner (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany); Laura Bernardi (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)
    Abstract: Based on the analysis of qualitative interviews in western Germany we argue that social relationships have a strong impact on individuals´ and couples´ fertility intentions and behavior. We identify relevant others and mechanisms of influences. The core family is an important factor of influences but we are also able to show that social relationships beyond the core family of parents and siblings need to be considered when taking social influence on the family formation of individuals into account.
    Keywords: Germany, fertility, influence, social network
    JEL: J1 Z0
    Date: 2009–01
  5. By: Fumiko Hayashi; Zhu Wang
    Abstract: This paper studies product innovation and firm survival in the U.S. ATM/debit card industry. The industry started with a few shared ATM networks in the early 1970s. The number of networks grew quickly up until the mid 1980s, but then declined sharply. We construct a theoretical model based on Jovanovic and MacDonald (1994). In contrast to their model focusing on cost-saving technological innovation, our model shows a major product innovation may also trigger the shakeout. The theoretical predictions are tested using a novel dataset on network entry, exit, size, location, ownership and product choices. The findings suggest introducing the point of sale debit function in the mid 1980s played an important role driving the network consolidation. Unlike previous studies, we find little advantage of being early industry entrants. Rather, due to network effects in the industry, large networks had better chance to adopt the product innovation and survive the shakeout.
    Date: 2008
  6. By: Yamauchi, Futoshi; Ueyama, Mika
    Abstract: "This paper examines social learning regarding HIV infection, using HIV test results and sibling death data from Malawi. In the analysis, we compare hypotheses on social learning, selection. and common factors. Empirical results show that young women are less likely to be HIV-infected if they observed prime-age deaths among their siblings, whereas HIV infection is found to be positively related to prime-age sibling deaths among older women. This supports the social-learning hypothesis. Notably, schooling reinforces the social-learning effect of sibling deaths on HIV infection in women regardless of age. The above findings are robust to age (cohort) effects and unobserved location factors." from authors' abstract
    Keywords: Social learning, HIV infection, AIDS (Disease) Africa, Sub-Saharan, siblings,
    Date: 2008
  7. By: Fabio Mariani (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I, EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris, IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor)
    Abstract: We model virtue as an asset on the marriage market : since men value virginity in prospective mates, preserving their virtue increases girls' chances of getting a "good" husband, and therefore allows for upward social mobility. Consistent with some historical and anthropological evidence, we find that the diffusion (and the social value) of virginity, across societies and over time, can be determined, among others, by income inequality, gender differences, social stratification and overall economic development. This is a further example of how cultural and moral values can be affected by economic factors.
    Keywords: Mating, marriage, cultural value, social classes, inequality.
    Date: 2008–12
  8. By: Clare Anderson; David L. Dickinson
    Abstract: Though it is well known that sleep loss results in poor judgment and decisions, little is known about the influence of social context in these processes. Sixteen healthy young adults underwent three games involving bargaining (‘Ultimatum’ and ‘Dictator’) and trust, following total sleep deprivation (TSD) and during rested wakefulness (RW), in a repeated measures, counterbalanced design. To control for repeatability, a second group (n=16) was tested twice under RW conditions. Paired anonymously with another individual, participants made their simple social interaction decisions facing real monetary incentives. For bargaining, following TSD participants were more likely to reject unequal-split offers made by their partner, despite the rejection resulting in a zero monetary payoff for both participants. For the trust game, participants were less likely to place full trust in their anonymous partner, again affecting final payoff. Overall, we provide novel evidence that following TSD, the conflict between personal financial gain and payoff equality is focused on unfavourable inequality. This results in the rejection of unfair offers, at personal monetary cost, and the lack of full trust, which would expose one to being exploited in the interaction. As such, we suggest that within a social domain a rational decision may not prevail over more emotional options following TSD, which has fundamental consequence for real-world decision making involving social exchange. Key Words: Sleep loss, trust, bargaining, social preference, interaction
    Date: 2009
  9. By: Howard Loewen (GIGA Institute of Asian Studies)
    Abstract: Whereas the European Union (EU) favors a formal, binding, output-oriented, and to some extent supranational approach to cooperation, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is based on informal, non-binding, process-oriented intergovernmental forms of cooperation. This article addresses the question of whether these differences between European and Asian cooperation norms or cultures can account for interregional cooperation problems in the areas of democracy and human rights within the institutional context of EU-ASEAN and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). The author argues that a clash of cooperation cultures basically occurs in both forms of interregional collaboration between Asia and Europe, with slight differences due to the institutional context: while disagreements over the question of democracy and human rights between the EU and ASEAN have led to a temporary and then a complete standstill in cooperation, the flexible institutional mechanisms of ASEM seem, at first glance, to mitigate the disruptive effects of such dialogues. Yet informality does not remove the issues from the agenda, as the recurrent disputes over Myanmar’s participation and the nonintervention norm favored by the Asian side of ASEM clearly indicate. Antagonistic cooperation cultures thus play a significant role in explaining the obstructive nature of the interregional human rights and democracy dialogue between Asia and Europe.
    Keywords: cooperation culture, human rights, democracy, Myanmar, EU-ASEAN, ASEM
    Date: 2008–12

This nep-soc issue is ©2009 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.