nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2009‒04‒13
twelve papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
University of Siena

  1. Delinquent Networks By Coralio Ballester; Antoni Calvó-Armengol; Yves Zenou
  2. Social Capital and Subjective Well-Being trends: Evidence from 11 European countries By Francesco Sarracino
  3. What can facilitate cooperation: Fairness, ineaulity aversion, punishment, norms or trust? By Urs Steiner Brandt
  4. Ethics and economics in Karl Menger: how did social sciences cope with Hilbertism By Becchio Giandomenica
  5. Economic and social impacts of self-help groups in India By Deininger, Klaus; Liu, Yanyan
  6. Preferences for Redistribution By Alesina, Alberto; Giuliano, Paola
  7. The role of religion and political regime for human capital and economic development By Bednarik, Radek; Filipova, Lenka
  8. Measuring Trust: Experiments and Surveys in Contrast and Combination By Naef, Michael; Schupp, Jürgen
  9. Do the Selfish Mimic Cooperators? Experimental Evidence from Finitely-Repeated Labor Markets By Roe, Brian E.; Wu, Steven Y.
  10. Other-Regarding Preferences and Leadership Styles By Kocher, Martin G.; Pogrebna, Ganna; Sutter, Matthias
  11. Religion and Intimate Partner Violence in Chile: Macro- and Micro-Level Influences By Lehrer, Evelyn L.; Lehrer, Vivian L.; Krauss, Ramona
  12. Are State Elections Affected by the National Economy? Evidence from Australia By Andrew Leigh; Mark McLeish

  1. By: Coralio Ballester (Universidad de Alicante); Antoni Calvó-Armengol (ICREA,Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona); Yves Zenou (Stockholm University, Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) and CREAM)
    Abstract: Delinquents are embedded in a network of relationships. Social ties among delinquents are modeled by means of a graph where delinquents compete for a booty and benefit from local interactions with their neighbors. Each delinquent decides in a non-cooperative way how much delinquency effort he will exert. Using the network model developed by Ballester et al. (2006), we characterize the Nash equilibrium and derive an optimal enforcement policy, called the key-player policy, which targets the delinquent who, once removed, leads to the highest aggregate delinquency reduction. We then extend our characterization of optimal single player network removal for delinquency reduction, the key player, to optimal group removal, the key group. We also characterize and derive a policy that targets links rather than players. Finally, we endogenize the network connecting delinquents by allowing players to join the labor market instead of committing delinquent offenses. The key-player policy turns out to be much more complex since it depends on wages and on the structure of the network.
    Date: 2008–04
  2. By: Francesco Sarracino
    Abstract: Discovering whether social capital endowments in modern societies have been subjected or not to a process of gradual erosion is one of the most debated topics in recent economic literature. This new stream of research has been inaugurated by Putnam’s pioneering studies about social capital trends in the United States. Recently, a considerable work by Stevenson andWolfers (2008) put a new emphasis on this topic contending Easterlin’s assessment. Present work is aimed at analyzing the relationship between changes in social capital and subjective well-being in Europe considering 11 different countries. In particular, we would like to answer questions such as: 1) is social capital in Europe declining? Is such erosion a general trend of modern societies or is it a characteristic feature of only some of them? 2) social capital trend can help to explain subjective well-being trend? In so doing, our research considers three different set of proxies of social capital controlling for time and socio-demographic aspects in eleven different European countries using WVS data between 1980 and 2000.Our results are encouraging, showing evidence of a probable relationship between social capital and happiness. Furthermore, our results show that during last twenty years European citizens have persistently lost confidence in the judicial system, in the church, in armed forces and the police. Finally, considering single countries, we discover that United Kingdom is the only European country with a clear and negative pattern for social capital: quite every proxy of social capital in UK declined over the considered period
    JEL: D6 I31 O1
    Date: 2009–03
  3. By: Urs Steiner Brandt (Department of Environmental and Business Economics, University of Southern Denmark)
    Abstract: Almost all economic and public choice models assume that all people are exclusively pursuing their own material self-interests and do not care about "social" goals per se. Several (laboratory) experiments address the question of the general validity of this assumption. A consistent conclusion emerges that a significant number of people deviate from the assumption of selfish rational behaviour; this conclusion is robust with respect to the design of the experiments. Therefore, public choice comes with a price: the conclusions are based on the stylized stereotype of economic man, an assumption that is not fully satisfied. The purpose of this paper is to show how to incorporate otherregarding preferences into an otherwise traditional utility approach without losing predicting power or compromising the rationality assumption. On the contrary, since other-regarding preferences are based on observed behaviour, the predicting power increases; this is demonstrated at the end of this paper, where it is shown how other-regarding preferences can explain the existence and persistence of a welfare state and why people might act sustainably.
    Date: 2008–11
  4. By: Becchio Giandomenica (University of Turin)
    Abstract: This paper deals with the contributions made to the social sciences by the mathematician Karl Menger (1902-1985), the son of the more famous economist, Carl Menger. Mathematician and a logician, he focused on whether it was possible to explain the social order in formal terms.1 He stressed the need to find the appropriate means with which to treat them, avoiding recourse to historical descriptions, which are unable to yield social laws. He applied Hilbertism to economics and ethics in order to build an axiomatic and formalized model of the individual behavior and the dynamics of social groups.
    Date: 2009–04
  5. By: Deininger, Klaus; Liu, Yanyan
    Abstract: Although there has been considerable recent interest in micro-credit programs, rigorous evidence on the impacts of forming self-help groups to mobilize savings and foster social empowerment at the local level is virtually non-existent, despite a large number of programs following this pattern. The authors use a large household survey to assess the economic and social impacts of the formation of self-help groups in India. They find positive impacts on empowerment and nutritional intake in program areas overall and heterogeneity of impacts between members of pre-existing and newly formed groups, as well as non-participants. Female social and economic empowerment in program areas increased irrespective of participation status, suggesting positive externalities. Nutritional benefit was more pronounced for new participants than for members of pre-existing groups. Evidence of higher consumption - but not income or asset formation - by participants suggests that at the time of the survey, the program's main economic impact had been through consumption smoothing and diversification of income sources rather than exploitation of new income sources. Evaluation of such programs in ways that allow heterogeneity of program impact can yield highly policy-relevant insights.
    Keywords: Access to Finance,Housing&Human Habitats,Social Accountability,Poverty Monitoring&Analysis,
    Date: 2009–03–01
  6. By: Alesina, Alberto (Harvard University); Giuliano, Paola (University of California, Los Angeles)
    Abstract: This paper discusses what determines the preferences of individuals for redistribution. We review the theoretical literature and provide a framework to incorporate various effects previously studied separately in the literature. We then examine empirical evidence for the US, using the General Social Survey, and for a large set of countries, using the World Values Survey. The paper reviews previously found results and provides several new ones. We emphasize, in particular, the role of historical experiences, cultural factors and personal history as determinants of preferences for equality or tolerance for inequality.
    Keywords: preferences for redistribution
    JEL: H1
    Date: 2009–03
  7. By: Bednarik, Radek; Filipova, Lenka
    Abstract: In this paper, we focus on the research of the impact of religion and political regime on human capital and economic development. There is a lot of incentive literature concerning the impact of political regime and religion on the economic development. However, we use different approach to show the mutual dependence of variables and offer another aspect of economic development relating to religion which is secularization and the principle of equal rights. We use three equation model to verify two hypotheses in our paper. The first, that differences in GDP per capita among countries determined by technological progress are influenced by religion and political regime. The second, that there is the interplay between GDP and educational level and education and political regime.
    Keywords: economic development; political regime; religion; human capital
    JEL: O10 C33
    Date: 2009–04–08
  8. By: Naef, Michael (University of London); Schupp, Jürgen (DIW Berlin)
    Abstract: Trust is a concept that has attracted significant attention in economic theory and research within the last two decades: it has been applied in a number of contexts and has been investigated both as an explanatory and as a dependent variable. In this paper, we explore the questions of what exactly is measured by the diverse survey-derived scales and experiments claiming to measure trust, and how these different measures are related. Using nationally representative data, we test a commonly used experimental measure of trust for robustness to a number of interferences, finding it to be mostly unsusceptible to stake size, the extent of strategy space, the use of the strategy method, and the characteristics of the experimenters. Inspired by criticism of the widespread trust question used in many surveys, we created a new, improved survey trust scale consisting of three short statements. We show that the dimension of this scale is distinct from trust in institutions and trust in known others. Our new scale is a valid and reliable measure of trust in strangers. The scale is valid in the sense that it correlates with trusting behaviour in the experiment. Both survey and experimental measure correlate with related factors such as risk aversion, being an entrepreneur or a shareholder. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the survey measure's test-retest reliability (six weeks) is high. The experimental measure of trust is, on the other hand, not significantly correlated with trust in institutions nor with trust in known others. We conclude that the experimental measure of trust refers not to trust in a general sense, but specifically to trust in strangers.
    Keywords: representativity, survey, experiment, trust, SOEP
    JEL: C91 D63 Z13
    Date: 2009–03
  9. By: Roe, Brian E. (Ohio State University); Wu, Steven Y. (Purdue University)
    Abstract: Experimental studies have consistently shown that cooperative outcomes can emerge even in finitely repeated games. Such outcomes are justified by existing reputation building models, which suggest that cooperative outcomes can be sustained if some subjects have other-regarding preferences. While the existence of other-regarding preferences is typically used to justify experimental outcomes, we are unaware of empirical studies that explicitly examine the interaction between cooperators (those with other-regarding preferences) and selfish subjects in sustaining cooperation. In this paper, we classify subjects as either selfish or cooperative using simple social preference games and then test for behavioral differences between the two types in a finitely-repeated labor market with unenforceable worker effort. Theory predicts, and our data confirms, that (1) selfish players mimic the actions of cooperators when trading partners can track the individual reputation of past partners and (2) selfish and cooperative types act differently when individual reputations cannot be tracked.
    Keywords: contracts, relational contracts, implicit contracts, market interaction, experimental economics, repeated transaction, social preferences, reputation, firm latitude, finitely-repeated games
    JEL: C91 D31 D86 K12
    Date: 2009–03
  10. By: Kocher, Martin G. (University of Munich); Pogrebna, Ganna (Columbia University); Sutter, Matthias (University of Innsbruck)
    Abstract: We use a laboratory experiment to examine whether and to what extent other-regarding preferences of team leaders influence their leadership style in choice under risk. We find that leaders who prefer efficiency or report high levels of selfishness are more likely to exercise an autocratic leadership style by ignoring preferences of the other team members. Yet, inequity aversion has no significant impact on leadership styles. Elected leaders have a higher propensity than exogenously assigned leaders to use a democratic leadership style by reaching team consensus. Male leaders and leaders influenced by group membership tend to employ a democratic leadership style.
    Keywords: leadership style, other-regarding preferences, unobserved heterogeneity
    JEL: C91 C92 D70 D81
    Date: 2009–03
  11. By: Lehrer, Evelyn L. (University of Illinois at Chicago); Lehrer, Vivian L. (Urban Justice Center); Krauss, Ramona (University of Illinois at Chicago)
    Abstract: The Catholic Church has had a strong influence on the Chilean legal and social landscape in ways that have adversely affected victims of intimate partner violence; e.g., it succeeded until just five years ago in blocking efforts to legalize divorce. At the same time, quantitative studies based on survey data from the United States and other countries show a generally favorable influence of religion on health and many other domains of life, including intimate partner violence. The present study explores the puzzle posed by these seemingly opposing macro- and micro- level forces. Results based on data from the 2005 Survey of Student Well-Being, a questionnaire on gender based violence administered to students at a large public university in Chile, show that moderate or low levels of religiosity are associated with reduced vulnerability to violence, but high levels are not. This non-linearity sheds light on the puzzle, because at the macro level the religious views shaping Chile's legal and social environment have been extreme.
    Keywords: intimate partner violence, religion
    JEL: Z12 J12 J16
    Date: 2009–03
  12. By: Andrew Leigh; Mark McLeish
    Abstract: Using data from 191 Australian state elections, we test how voters respond to economic conditions. We find that unemployment has a strong impact on election outcomes, with each additional percentage point of unemployment reducing the incumbent’s re-election probability by 3-5 per cent. However, when we separate luck (unemployment in other states) from competence (unemployment in that state relative to the rest of Australia), we find that both luck and competence are equally important. This is consistent with a psychological theory of the ‘fundamental attribution error’, in which observers consistently underestimate the importance of situational constraints. We also find evidence that unemployment driven by a clearly exogenous source – the United States economy – has a non-trivial impact on the re-election probability of Australian state governments. Our results suggest that Australian voters either retain too many state governments in economic booms, vote out too many state governments in recessions, or perhaps both.
    Keywords: rational voting; political business cycles; unemployment; elections
    JEL: D72 D80
    Date: 2009–01

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.
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