nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2009‒08‒08
twelve papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
University of Siena

  1. A sociological perspective on measuring social norms by means of strategy method experiments By Heiko Rauhut; Fabian Winter
  2. Contract Enforcement, Institutions and Social Capital: the Maghribi Traders Reappraised By Edwards, J.; Ogilvie, S.
  3. Crime, Corruption and Institutions By Ishita Chatterjee; Ranjan Ray
  4. The 60s Turnaround as a Test on the Causal Relationship between Sociability and Happiness By Leonardo Becchetti; Elena Giachin Ricca; Alessandra Pelloni
  5. Jobless, Friendless, and Broke: What Happens to Different Areas of Life Before and After Unemployment? By Nattavudh Powdthavee; ;
  6. Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior By Lalin Anik; Lara B. Aknin; Michael I. Norton; Elizabeth W. Dunn
  7. Marry for What? Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India By Abhijit Banerjee
  8. Television Viewing, Satisfaction and Happiness: Facts and Fiction By Marco Gui; Luca Stanca
  9. Conditional Cooperation and Social Group - Experimental results from Colombia By Martinsson, Peter; Villegas-Palacio, Clara; Wollbrant, Conny
  10. Altruism, Turnout and Strategic Voting Behavior By Ozgur Evren

  1. By: Heiko Rauhut (ETH Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology); Fabian Winter (Max Planck Institute of Economics)
    Abstract: The measurement of social norms plays a pivotal role in many social sciences. While economists predominantly conduct experiments, sociologists rather employ (factorial) surveys. Both methods, however, suffer from distinct weaknesses. Experiments, on the one hand, often fall short in the measurement of more complex elements, such as the conditionality or the level of consensus of social norms. Surveys, on the other, lack the ability to measure actual behavior. This paper argues that the so-called "strategy method" compensates for these weaknesses by combining the observational characteristic of experiments with the conditionality of factorial surveys. We can demonstrate the applicability of the strategy method for the measure- ment of conditional bargaining norms in the case of ultimatum games. To substantiate our claim, we conduct a methodological experiment in which we compare results for the strategy ultimatum game with those from a "conventional" ultimatum game. The strategy method yields higher levels of normative compliance in terms of rejecting "unfair" offers. We conclude that the strategy method rather measures normative expectations whereas the "conventional" ultimatum game the willingness to sacrifice own profits to adhere to these expectations. Our results are consistent with previous comparative research between factorial surveys and observational data.
    Keywords: Social norms, measurement, ultimatum game, strategy method, factorial surveys
    JEL: Z13 D63 C91
    Date: 2009–08–06
  2. By: Edwards, J.; Ogilvie, S.
    Abstract: Economists draw important lessons for modern development from the medieval Maghribi traders who, it has been argued, enforced contracts collectively through a closed, private-order coalition. We show that this view is untenable. Not a single empirical example adduced as evidence of the putative coalition shows that any coalition actually existed. Furthermore, the Maghribis entered business associations with non-Maghribis and used formal enforcement mechanisms. The Maghribi traders cannot be used to argue that the social capital of exclusive, private-order networks will facilitate exchange in developing economies. Nor do they provide any support for the cultural theories of economic development and institutional change for which they have been mobilised.
    JEL: O17
    Date: 2009–07–30
  3. By: Ishita Chatterjee; Ranjan Ray
    Abstract: This paper explores the link between crime and corruption, compares their magnitudes, determinants and their effects on growth rates. The study uses a large cross country data set containing individual responses to questions on crime and corruption along with information on the respondents’ characteristics. This data set is supplemented by country level indicators from a variety of sources on a range of macro variables and on institutions in the respondent’s country of residence. A methodological contribution of this study is the estimation of an ordered probit model based on outcomes defined as combinations of crime and bribe victimisation. The principal results include the evidence that while a male is more likely to be a corruption victim, a female is more exposed to crime, especially, serious crime. Older individuals and those living in the smaller towns and cities are less exposed to crime and corruption due presumably to their ability to form informal networks that act as protective mechanisms. With increasing levels of income and education, an individual is more likely to report both crime and bribe victimisation. A crime victim is more likely than a non victim to report receiving demands for a bribe. The results suggest that variables such as inequality, unemployment rate and population size have a strong effect on the country’s crime and corruption statistics though the sign and significance of the country effects are not always robust. However, the paper does provide robust evidence that a stronger legal system and a happier society result in a reduction in both crime and corruption. While the study finds that both crime and corruption rates decline as a country becomes more affluent, as measured by its per capita GNP at PPP, there is no evidence of a strong and uniformly negative impact of either crime or corruption on a country’s growth rate. There is limited OLS based evidence of a non linear relationship between growth and corruption rates, though the significance of the corruption effect on growth disappears on the use of IV estimation. The paper also provides evidence that there has been a decline in both crime and corruption during the latter half of the 1990s. This is true even after controlling for the individual and country characteristics.
    Keywords: Crime Victimisation, Institutions, Happiness, Ordered Probit, Rule of Law.
    JEL: C13 D63 H80 I31 K42
    Date: 2009–08
  4. By: Leonardo Becchetti; Elena Giachin Ricca; Alessandra Pelloni
    Abstract: The nexus between social leisure and life satisfaction is riddled with endogeneity problems. In investigating the causal relationship going from the first to the second variable we start from considering that retirement is an event after which the time investable in (the outside job) relational life increases. We instrument social leisure with the probability of retirement of the three and four years younger cohorts. With such approach we document that social leisure has a positive and significant effect on life satisfaction. Our findings shed some light on the age-happiness pattern. Policy implications are also discussed.
    Keywords: Life satisfaction, relational goods, social capital
    JEL: I30 D61 A11 A13
    Date: 2009
  5. By: Nattavudh Powdthavee; ;
    Abstract: Using a nationally representative longitudinal data of the British people, this paper explores how different areas of a person's life are affected by unemployment. We find evidence that unemployment is preceded, on average, by a year of dissatisfaction with one's finance and job. Once unemployed, the individuals go through a period of financial worries, social isolation, and health loss, as well as fluctuations in marital quality. While the unemployed fully adapt to the drop in health satisfaction, adaptation in other areas of life is less complete. We also find that it makes virtually no difference to the life satisfaction-path before and after unemployment whether one assumes unemployment to affect life satisfaction directly or indirectly via its impacts on different life domains. Finally, the paper discusses the use of instrumented income to estimate the sums required to compensate individuals for each year that they spend in unemployment.
    Keywords: Domain satisfaction; Life satisfaction; Adaptation; Unemployment; Happiness
    JEL: I31 J6
  6. By: Lalin Anik (Harvard Business School); Lara B. Aknin (University of British Columbia); Michael I. Norton (Harvard Business School, Marketing Unit); Elizabeth W. Dunn (University of British Columbia)
    Abstract: In knowledge-intensive settings such as product or software development, fluid teams of individuals with different sets of experience are tasked with projects that are critical to the success of their organizations. Although building teams from individuals with diverse prior experience is increasingly necessary, prior work examining the relationship between experience and performance fails to find a consistent effect of diversity in experience on performance. The problem is that diversity in experience improves a team's information processing capacity and knowledge base, but also creates coordination challenges. We hypothesize that team familiarity - team members' prior experience working with one another - is one mechanism that helps teams leverage the benefits of diversity in team member experience by alleviating coordination problems that diversity creates. We use detailed project- and individual-level data from an Indian software services firm to examine the effects of team familiarity and diversity in experience on performance for software development projects. We find the interaction of team familiarity and diversity in experience has a complementary effect on a project being delivered on time and on budget. In team familiarity, we identify one mechanism for capturing the performance benefits of diversity in experience and provide insight into how the management of experience accumulation affects team performance.
    Keywords: Diversity, Experience, Knowledge, Software, Team Familiarity
    Date: 2009–08
  7. By: Abhijit Banerjee
    Abstract: This paper studies the role played by caste, education and other social and economic attributes in arranged marriages among middle-class Indians. A unique data set on individuals who placed matrimonial advertisements in a major newspaper, the responses they received, how they ranked them, and the eventual matches is used. The preferences for caste, education, beauty, and other attributes are estimated. A set of stable matches is computed, which is compared to the actual matches that are observed in the data.
    Keywords: caste, marriages, India, middle-class, Indians, education, caste, data
    Date: 2009
  8. By: Marco Gui; Luca Stanca
    Abstract: Despite the increasing consumption of new media, watching television remains the most important leisure activity worldwide. Research on audience reactions has demostrated that there are major contradictions between television consumption and the satisfaction obtained from this activity. Similar findings have also emerged in the relationship between TV consumption and overall well-being. This paper argues that television viewing can provide a major example where consumption choices do not maximize satisfaction. We review the evidence on the welfare effects of TV consumption choices, focusing on two complementary dimensions: consumption satisfaction and overall well-being Within each of these two dimensions, we consider both absolute and relative over-consumption, referring to quantity and content of television viewing, respectively. We find that research in different social sciences provides evidence of overconsumption in television viewing. The relevance of these findings for consumption of new media is discussed in the conclusions.
    Keywords: satisfaction, rationality, media consumption, television
    JEL: D12 D91 I31 J22
    Date: 2009–07
  9. By: Martinsson, Peter (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Villegas-Palacio, Clara (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Wollbrant, Conny (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: In contrast to previous studies on cross-group comparisons of conditional cooperation, this study keeps cross- and within-country dimensions constant. The results reveal significantly different cooperation behavior between social groups in the same location.<p>
    Keywords: Conditional cooperation; experiment; public goods; social group
    JEL: C91 H41
    Date: 2009–08–05
  10. By: Ozgur Evren
    Date: 2009–07–28
  11. By: Andres Reeson; John Tisdell
    Abstract: There are many factors which can motivate people to contribute to public goods. These range from intrinsic motivations such as altruism, through social motivations such as concerns for fairness and approval, to extrinsic incentives which include sanctions and payments. Institutions help determine how these motivations are applied and expressed. Psychological studies indicate that extrinsic incentives can crowd out the intrinsic motivations which prompt voluntary contributions to public goods. We applied experimental economics techniques to examine how people in a public good dilemma respond to changing institutions. Our results showed that the introduction of formal institutions (a regulation and competitive tender) crowded out voluntary contributions, with the supply of public good increasing less than anticipated, and in some circumstances actually decreasing. In particular, the introduction of the competitive tender triggered a ‘market instinct’, with participants who previously had been expressing social preferences now seeking to maximise profits. The effects of crowding out persisted even after an institution was removed, suggesting that it may be difficult to reverse. We conclude that policy makers should tread carefully when considering formal institutions to promote public good provision, particularly where desired actions are already occurring voluntarily to some extent.
    Date: 2009–08
  12. By: Hans-Jurgen Engelbrecht
    Abstract: Commons-based peer production is an activity that is emerging as a distinct mode of resource allocation and production of information, knowledge and culture (‘social production’ for short), potentially heralding a new stage in the development of information/knowledge-based economies. This paper presents a cross-country analysis of factors determining the information and knowledge output of the paradigmatic social production project, i.e. SETI@home. The main hypothesis explored is that the level of average subjective well-being in a country is a motivational proxy variable that can help explain the cross-country variation in SETI@home output levels. The hypothesis that trust might be of lesser importance is also explored. I find support for both hypotheses, but only for developed and advanced countries, not poor countries.
    Date: 2009–08

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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