nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2009‒10‒03
six papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
University of Siena

  1. The Sources of Happiness: Evidence from the Investment Game By Leonardo Becchetti; Giacomo degli Antoni
  2. Diversity of Communities and Economic Development By Gustav Ranis
  3. Cultural Identity and Knowledge Creation in Cosmopolitan Cities By Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano; Giovanni Prarolo
  4. Cultural Diversity and Economic Performance: Evidence from European Regions By Giovanni Prarolo; Elena Bellini; Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano; Dino Pinelli
  5. Residential mobility, neighbourhood quality and life-course events By Rabe B; Taylor M
  6. The Capability Approach and the Politics of a Social Conception of Wellbeing By Deneulin, Severine; McGregor, James A

  1. By: Leonardo Becchetti (University of Rome Tor Vergata); Giacomo degli Antoni (University of Milan - Bicocca)
    Abstract: The present paper draws on data collected in an investment game plus a questionnaire to investigate whether happiness is affected by circumstances and/or outcomes of the game and to evaluate which motivations or preference structures (self-interested preferences, inequity aversion, altruism, warm glow, social-welfare preferences, trust or reciprocity) may explain such effect. Our result shows that the amount sent has significant and positive effect on trustors’ self-declared happiness. We interpret this finding by arguing that the happiness effect can be explained by the enactment of the “generating” (social welfare enhancing) power of the trustor’s decision. Characteristics of the investment game are such that the trustor has a value creating while the trustee only a redistributive power. This difference may explain why only trustors and not trustees are significantly and positively affected by their giving decision.
    Keywords: Happiness, Investment Game, Social-welfare Preferences
    JEL: C91 D63 A13
    Date: 2009–09
  2. By: Gustav Ranis (Yale University, Economic Growth Center)
    Abstract: Template-Type: ReDIF-Paper 1.0
    Abstract: This paper reviews the literature on the impact of ethnic diversity on economic development. Ethnically polarized societies are less likely to agree on the provision of public goods and more likely to engage in rent seeking activities providing lower levels of social capital. Initial conditions are important determinants of adverse development outcomes. The role of decentralization, democracy and markets as potential remedies are discussed. The paper then presents a number of preliminary hypotheses on the relationship between diversity and instability in order to stimulate future research.
    Keywords: Africa, Diversity, Economic Growth, Instability
    JEL: O11 O40 O43 O55
    Date: 2009–09
  3. By: Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano (Bocconi University, DEP-KITeS, FEEM and CEPR); Giovanni Prarolo (University of Bologna and FEEM)
    Abstract: We study how the city system is affected by the possibility for the members of the same cultural diaspora to interact across different cities. In so doing, we propose a simple two- city model with two mobile cultural groups. A localized externality fosters the productivity of individuals when groups interact in a city. At the same time, such interaction dilutes cultural identities and reduces the consumption of culture-specific goods and services. We show that the two groups segregate in different cities when diaspora members find it hard to communicate at distance whereas they integrate in multicultural cities when communication is easy. The model generates situations in which segregation is an equilibrium but is Pareto dominated by integration.
    Keywords: Cultural Identity, Cosmopolitan City, Productiviy
    Date: 2009–09
  4. By: Giovanni Prarolo (Università di Bologna); Elena Bellini (FEEM); Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano (University of Bologna, FEEM and CEPR); Dino Pinelli (FEEM)
    Abstract: We investigate the relationship between diversity and productivity in Europe using an original dataset covering the NUTS 3 regions of 12 countries of the EU15 (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, former Western Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). In so doing, we follow the empirical methodology developed by Ottaviano and Peri (2006a) in the case of US cities. The main idea is that, as cultural diversity may affect both production and consumption through positive or negative externalities, the joint estimation of price and income equations is needed to identify the dominant effect. Based on this methodology, we find that diversity is positively correlated with productivity. Moreover, we find evidence that causation runs from the former to the latter. These results for EU regions are broadly consistent with those found by Ottaviano and Peri for US cities.
    Keywords: Cultural Diversity, Economic Performance, Productivity, Europe
    JEL: O5 O11 O57 R5 R58
    Date: 2009–08
  5. By: Rabe B (Institute for Social and Economic Research); Taylor M (Institute for Social and Economic Research)
    Abstract: Neighbourhood characteristics affect the social and economic opportunities of their residents. While a number of studies have analysed housing adjustments at different life stages, little is known about neighbourhood quality adjustments. Based on a model of optimal housing consumption we analyse the determinants of residential mobility and the neighbourhood quality adjustments made by those who move, drawing on data from the British Household Panel Survey and Indices of Multiple Deprivation. We measure neighbourhood quality both subjectively and objectively and find that not all life-course events that trigger moves lead to neighbourhood quality adjustments. Single people are negatively affected by leaving the parental home and couples by a husbandÂ’s unemployment. Couples having a new baby move into better neighbourhoods.
    Date: 2009–09–17
  6. By: Deneulin, Severine; McGregor, James A
    Abstract: The paper discusses the potential and pitfalls of Sen's capability approach. It discusses areas where the capability approach has made a significant contribution to the social sciences. However, the paper argues that the approach fails to thke into account the social construction of meaning. It is these social meanings which gives us a basis from which we know what we value and judge how satisfied we feel about what we are able to achieve. From this viewpoint a person's state of wellbeing (or illbeing) is socially and psychologically co-constituted in specific social and cultural contexts. This entrails that the reality of trade-offs between competing conceptions of wellbeing has to be confronted, and that therefore such social conception of wellbeing is also profoundly political.
    Keywords: capability approach; social wellbeing; reasoning; conflict
    JEL: H1
    Date: 2009–02

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