nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2010‒01‒23
ten papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
University of Siena

  1. Cultural and Institutional Bifurcation: China and Europe Compared By Avner Greif; Guido Tabellini
  2. Inequality in health outcomes in India: the role of caste and religion By Borooah, Vani /K
  3. Heterogeneity, trust, human capital and productivity growth: Decomposition analysis By Yamamura, Eiji; Shin, Inyong
  4. UK Retailers and Climate Change: The Role of Partnership in Climate Strategies By Brophy Haney, A.; Jones, I.W.; Pollitt, M.G.
  5. Can intentions spoil the kindness of a gift? - An experimental study By Christina Strassmair
  6. The Reception of International Law by Constitutional Courts through the Prism of Legitimacy By Andreas Nicklisch; Irenaeus Wolff
  7. Intangible capital and firms productivity By Emanuela Marrocu; Raffaele Paci; M. Pontis
  8. Group Lending versus Individual Lending in Microfinance By Maria Lehner
  9. Do wage cuts damage work morale? Evidence from a natural field experiment By Sebastian Kube; Michel André Maréchal; Clemens Puppe
  10. An Exploration of the Content of Social Norms using Simple Games By López-Pérez, Raúl; Vorsatz, Marc

  1. By: Avner Greif; Guido Tabellini
    Abstract: How to sustain cooperation is a key challenge for any society. Different social organizations have evolved in the course of history to cope with this challenge by relying on different combinations of external (formal and informal) enforcement institutions and intrinsic motivation. Some societies rely more on informal enforcement and moral obligations within their constituting groups. Others rely more on formal enforcement and general moral obligations towards society at large. How do culture and institutions interact in generating different evolutionary trajectories of societal organizations? Do contemporary attitudes, institutions and behavior reflect distinct pre-modern trajectories?
    Date: 2009
  2. By: Borooah, Vani /K
    Abstract: The “social gradient to health” - whereby people belonging to groups higher up the social ladder had better health outcomes than those belonging to groups further down - is essentially a Western construct; there has been very little investigation into whether, in developing countries also, people’s state of health is dependent on their social status. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the relative strengths of economic and social status in determining the health status of persons in India. In other words, even after controlling for non-community factors, did the fact that Indians belonged to different social groups, encapsulating different degrees of social status, exercise a significant influence on the state of their health? The existence of a social group effect would suggest that there was a “social gradient” to health outcomes in India. Furthermore, there was the possibility that the “social gradient” existed with respect to some outcomes but not to others. In investigating this, the paper addresses, in the Indian context, an issue which les at the heart of social epidemiology: estimating the relative strengths of individual and social factors in determining health outcomes.
    Keywords: Health outcomes; Caste; Religion; India
    JEL: I12
    Date: 2010
  3. By: Yamamura, Eiji; Shin, Inyong
    Abstract: This paper uses panel data from Japan to decompose productivity growth measured by the growth of output per labor unit into three components of efficiency improvement, capital accumulation and technological progress. It then examines their determinants through a dynamic panel model. In particular, this paper focuses on the question of how inequality, trust and humans affect the above components. The main findings derived from empirical estimations are: (1) Inequality impedes not only improvements in efficiency but also capital accumulation. (2) A degree of trust promotes efficiency improvements and capital accumulation at the same time. However, human capital merely enhances improvements in efficiency.
    Keywords: Heterogeneity; Inequality; Trust; Data envelopment analysis
    JEL: E25 O15 O40
    Date: 2010–01–15
  4. By: Brophy Haney, A.; Jones, I.W.; Pollitt, M.G.
    Abstract: More and more companies in the UK are developing strategies to address the challenges of climate change. We focus on the UK retail sector and explore the role of partnership in shaping the climate change commitments and actions taken by retail companies. We use a social capital approach to firstly measure best practice in the climate strategies of a sample of 60 companies. We then measure the differences in engagement with partner organisations across the same set of companies. Using our best practice and partnership indices, we investigate how committed companies are to climate strategies; how partnerships have an impact on best practice; and we try to understand the distinction between companies that are more and less highly engaged in partnering. We find that partnership has an important role to play; and specifically that higher levels of partner diversity and greater depth of engagement improve the impact of partnership on best practice.
    Keywords: Corporate Responsibility, Carbon Reduction Commitment, energy efficiency, social capital
    JEL: M14 Z13
    Date: 2009–12–16
  5. By: Christina Strassmair (University of Munich)
    Abstract: Consider a situation where person A undertakes acostly action that benefits person B. This behavior seems altruistic. However, if A expects a reward in return from B, then A's action may be motivated by expected rewards rather than by pure altruism. The question we address in this experimental study is how B reacts to A's intentions. We vary the probability that the second mover in a trust game can reciprocate and analyze effects on second mover behavior. Our results suggest that expected rewards do not spoil the perceived kindness of an action and the action's rewards.
    Keywords: social preferences, intentions, beliefs, psychological game theory, experiment
    JEL: C91 D64
    Date: 2009–10
  6. By: Andreas Nicklisch (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn); Irenaeus Wolff (University of Erfurt)
    Abstract: Carpenter and Matthews (2009) examine the cooperation norms determining people's punishment behavior in a social-dilemma game. Their findings are striking: absolute norms outperform the relative norms commonly regarded as the determinants of punishment. Using multiple punishment stages and self-contained episodes of interaction, we disentangle the effects of retaliation and norm-related punishment. An additional treatment provides data on the norms bystanders use in judging punishment actions. Our results partly confirm the findings of Carpenter and Matthews: only for the punishment-related decisions in the first iteration is the absolute norm outperformed by the self-referential norm set by the punisher's own contribution. For the decisions in all later iterations, as well as for bystanders' support in all iterations, the absolute norm organizes our data best. In contrast to the study by Carpenter and Matthews, we find an absolute norm of 3=4 of players' endowments to be both consistent across decisions and relatively stable over time.
    Keywords: Experiment, public-good, punishment, social norms, voluntary cooperation
    JEL: C92 D63 H41
    Date: 2009–12
  7. By: Emanuela Marrocu; Raffaele Paci; M. Pontis
    Abstract: Firms competitive strategy in industrialised countries is increasingly based on activities such as the inventions of new processes and products, the improvements of the employees skill, the creation of a reputation for company’s products. All these actions intend to increase firms economic performances and are labelled as “intangible capital”. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the role of intangible capital on firms productivity in addition to the one played by traditional inputs. Firms productivity may also depend on the socio-economic conditions of the region where the firm is located. Therefore, we also control for the physical endowments of the region (public capital, infrastructures) as well as for several types of intangible assets specific to the region (human, technological and social capital) which operate as positive externalities to the localised firms. In our empirical application we employ a large panel of European companies over the period 2002-2006 belonging to 116 regions of six countries. The estimation results show the positive influence of the internal intangible capital on firms productivity levels and also the crucial role played by the intangible assets at the regional level. These results remark the importance of policies designed to stimulate the accumulation of intangible capital stocks internal to the firms through appropriate fiscal policies and to create a favourable external environment based on high endowments of human, social and technological capital.
    Keywords: productivity; intangible capital; local externalities; European regions.
    JEL: C33 D24 O30 R10
    Date: 2009
  8. By: Maria Lehner (University of Munich)
    Abstract: Microfinance is typically associated with joint liability of group members. However, a large part of microfinance institutions rather offers individual instead of group loans. We analyze the incentive mechanisms in both individual and group contracts. Moreover, we show that microfinance institutions offer group loans when the loan size is rather large, refinancing costs are high, and competition between microfinance institutions is low. Otherwise, individual loans are offered. Interestingly, our analysis predicts that individual lending in microfinance will gain in importance in the future if microfinance institutions continue to get better access to capital markets and if competition further rises.
    Keywords: microfinance, group loans, individual loans
    JEL: G21 L13 O16
    Date: 2009–08
  9. By: Sebastian Kube; Michel André Maréchal; Clemens Puppe
    Abstract: Contractual incompleteness characterizes many employment relations. High work morale is therefore fundamental for sustaining voluntary cooperation within the firm. We conducted a natural field experiment testing to what extent wages affect work morale. The results provide clear-cut evidence showing that wage cuts have a detrimental impact on work morale. An equivalent wage increase, however, does not result in any productivity gains. Theses results highlight a strongly asymmetric response of work morale to wage variations.
    Keywords: Morale, reciprocity, gift exchange, field experiment
    JEL: C93 J30
    Date: 2010–01
  10. By: López-Pérez, Raúl (Departamento de Análisis Económico (Teoría e Historia Económica). Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.); Vorsatz, Marc (Fundación de Estudios de Economía Aplicada–FEDEA)
    Abstract: The literature on social norms stresses that compliance with norms is approved while deviance is disapproved. Based on this, we explore the content of social norms using experimental data from five dictator games with a feedback stage. Our data suggests that subjects either care about a reciprocity or an efficiency norm.
    Keywords: approval; disapproval; dictator game; experiment; social Norms.
    JEL: A13 C72 D64 Z13
    Date: 2010–01

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