nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2010‒02‒13
thirteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
University of Siena

  1. Beliefs and Actions in the Trust Game: Creating Instrumental Variables to Estimate the Causal Effect By Costa-Gomes, Miguel A.; Huck, Steffen; Weizsäcker, Georg
  2. Social Norms and Behavior in the Local Commons Through the Lens of Field Experiments By Juan Camilo Cárdenas
  3. On the Channels of Pro-Social Behavior-Evidence from a natural field experiment By Hannes Koppel; Günther G. Schulze
  4. Youth Employment in Europe: Institutions and Social Capital Explain Better than Mainstream Economics By Contini, Bruno
  5. Punishment, Cooperation, and Cheater Detection in "Noisy" Social Exchange By Gary Bornstein; Ori Weisel
  6. “Striving for Savings” – religion and individual economic behavior By Anja Klaubert
  7. Inhibitions and implications associated with celebrity participation in social marketing programs focusing on HIV prevention: an exploratory research By Beatriz Casais; João F. Proença
  8. Connective Capital as Social Capital: The Value of Problem-Solving Networks for Team Players in Firms By Casey Ichniowski; Kathryn L. Shaw
  9. Do Migrants Improve Governance at Home? Evidence from a Voting Experiment By Batista, Catia; Vicente, Pedro C.
  10. Collective Action forWatershed Management: Field Experiments in Colombia and Kenya By Juan Camilo Cárdenas; Luz Ángela Rodríguez; Nancy Johnson
  11. Behavioral economics as applied to firms: a primer By Armstrong, Mark; Huck, Steffen
  12. The partnership between the state and the church against trafficking in persons By Goschin, Zizi; Constantin, Daniela-Luminita; Roman , Monica
  13. Institutional and Socio-Cultural Factors Explaining the Development of Mutual Funds. A Cross-Country Analysis By Tulbure, Narcis; Catarama, Delia

  1. By: Costa-Gomes, Miguel A. (University of Aberdeen); Huck, Steffen (University College London); Weizsäcker, Georg (University College London)
    Abstract: In many economic contexts, an elusive variable of interest is the agent's expectation about relevant events, e.g. about other agents' behavior. Recent experimental studies as well as surveys have asked participants to state their beliefs explicitly, but little is known about the causal relation between beliefs and other behavioral variables. This paper discusses the possibility of creating exogenous instrumental variables for belief statements, by shifting the probabilities of the relevant events. We conduct trust game experiments where the amount sent back by the second player (trustee) is exogenously varied by a random process, in a way that informs only the first player (trustor) about the realized variation. The procedure allows detecting causal links from beliefs to actions under plausible assumptions. The IV estimates indicate a significant causal effect, comparable to the connection between beliefs and actions that is suggested by OLS analyses.
    Keywords: social capital, trust game, instrumental variables, belief elicitation
    JEL: C72 C81 C91 D84
    Date: 2010–01
  2. By: Juan Camilo Cárdenas
    Abstract: Behavior in the local commons is usually embedded in a context of regulations and social norms that the group of users face. Such norms and rules affect how individuals value material and non-material incentives and therefore determine their decision to cooperate or over extract the resources from the common-pool. This paper discusses the importance of social norms in shaping behavior in the commons through the lens of experiments, and in particular experiments conducted in the field with people that usually face these social dilemmas in their daily life. Through a large sample of experimental sessions with around one thousand people between villagers and students, I test some hypothesis about behavior in the commons when regulations and social norms constrain the choices of people. The results suggest that people evaluate several components of the intrinsic and material motivations in their decision to cooperate. While responding in the expected direction to a imperfectly monitored fine on over extraction, the expected cost of the regulation is not a sufficient explanatory factor for the changes in behavior by the participants in the experiments. Even with zero cost of violations, people can respond positively to an external regulator that issues a normative statement about a rule that is aimed at solving the social dilemma.
    Date: 2009–11–22
  3. By: Hannes Koppel; Günther G. Schulze (Department of International Economic Policy, University of Freiburg)
    Abstract: We conduct a natural field experiment on direct and indirect transfer mechanisms for small donations. Charitable contributions are significantly higher if made indirectly, i.e. if they are tied to the purchase of a good sold at a premium, than if they are made directly. Donations are significantly higher under both transfer mechanisms if people are given a suggested reference donation.
    Keywords: Tied versus untied transfers, charitable donations, charity, willingness to give, pro social behavior
    JEL: D64 C93 H41
    Date: 2010–01
  4. By: Contini, Bruno (LABORatorio R. Revelli)
    Abstract: Why did employment growth – high in the last decade – take place at the expense of young workers in the countries of Central and Southern Europe? This is the question addressed in this paper. Youth unemployment has approached or exceeded 20% despite a variety of factors, common to most EU countries. According to neo-classical economics all would be expected to exert a positive impact on its evolution: population ageing and the demographic decline, low labor cost of young workers, flexibility of working arrangements, higher educational attainment, low unionization of young workers, early retirement practices of workers 50+. But neither seems to provide a convincing explanation. Historically based institutions and political tradition, cultural values, social capital – factors that go beyond the standard explanation of economic theory – provide a more satisfying interpretation.
    Keywords: youth employment, unemployment, social capital, institutions
    JEL: J0 J1 J6
    Date: 2010–01
  5. By: Gary Bornstein; Ori Weisel
    Abstract: Explaining human cooperation in large groups of non-kin is a major challenge to both rational choice theory and the theory of evolution. Recent research suggests that group cooperation can be explained assuming that cooperators can punish non-cooperators or cheaters. The experimental evidence comes from economic games in which group members are informed about the behavior of all others and cheating occurs in full view. We demonstrate that under more realistic information conditions, where cheating is less obvious, punishment is ineffective in enforcing cooperation. Evidently, the explanatory power of punishment is constrained by the visibility of cheating.
    Date: 2009–12
  6. By: Anja Klaubert (Institute of Economics, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany)
    Abstract: In the Neoclassical growth model the saving ratio and human capital might be seen as the most important factors fostering economic growth. At last since Weber [2005 (1904/05)] it seems clear, that religious beliefs and involvement shapes both social and economic human behavior. This paper tests the hypothesis whether religious belonging and believing influence a household’s economic decision-making in the USA, which was found to foster economic growth, namely the saving ratio at the individual level. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), we find religious effects on saving. Regarding the decision to save money no large differences within the Christian religions, namely Protestants and Catholics, were found. However, large differences exist compared to non-religious people as well as to Non-Christians and Jews.
    Keywords: growth, religion, individual saving behavior
    Date: 2010–01
  7. By: Beatriz Casais (Faculdade de Economia, Universidade do Porto); João F. Proença (Faculdade de Economia, Universidade do Porto)
    Abstract: This paper discusses celebrity participation in social marketing programs focusing on public health, especially on HIV programs. The research identifies the inhibitions of celebrity people and implications that this involvement may have upon their lives. The paper analysis data from in-depth interviews made to twenty-seven Portuguese celebrities from arts, show business and sports. The results show absence of prejudice against HIV. Famous people feel motivated to join public health and HIV cause because of the serious nature of the disease, as well as the social stigma attached to AIDS which can suggest positive discrimination. The paper also shows that celebrities expected a fee for their endorsement, despite the social role they consider celebrities should have, and the positive image they benefit for endorsing public health campaigns. The research discusses celebrity expectations and worries and, finally, shows several results that are helpful for negotiations between institutions and celebrities insofar as it may pave the way for celebrity involvement in social marketing programs.
    Keywords: Social marketing, Celebrity endorsement, HIV prevention
    JEL: H51 H52 H53 H75 I10 I18
    Date: 2010–02
  8. By: Casey Ichniowski; Kathryn L. Shaw
    Abstract: Traditional human capital theory emphasizes a worker’s investment in knowledge. However, when a worker is faced with day-to-day problems on the job, the solutions to the problems often require more knowledge from a team of experts within the firm. When a worker taps into the knowledge of experts, the worker develops his “connective capital.” Firms that value problem solving highly will develop the human resource management practices that support the environment of sharing knowledge. Data from the steel industry displays these concepts. For seven large steel mills, we gather data on the communications networks of steelworkers. The data shows that networks are exceedingly diverse across mills, and that the mills that have human resource management practices that support teamwork are the mills that have with much more dense high-volume communications links among workers. That is, workers in team-orientated mills have much higher levels of personal connective capital used for problem-solving.
    JEL: J24 J3 J31
    Date: 2009–12
  9. By: Batista, Catia (Trinity College Dublin); Vicente, Pedro C. (Trinity College Dublin)
    Abstract: This paper tests the hypothesis that international migration experiences may promote better institutions at home by raising the demand for political accountability. In order to examine this question, we use a simple postcard voting experiment designed to capture the population’s desire for better governance. Using data from a tailored household survey, we examine the determinants of voting behavior in our experiment, and isolate the positive effect of international emigration on the demand for political accountability. We find that this effect can be mainly attributed to the presence of return migrants, particularly to those who emigrated to countries with better governance.
    Keywords: international migration, governance, political accountability, institutions, effects of emigration in origin countries, household survey, Cape Verde, Sub-Saharan Africa
    JEL: F22 O12 O15 O43 P16
    Date: 2010–01
  10. By: Juan Camilo Cárdenas; Luz Ángela Rodríguez; Nancy Johnson
    Abstract: The dilemma of collective action around water use and management involves solving both the problems of provision and appropriation. Cooperation in the provision can be affected by the rival nature of the appropriation and the asymmetries in the access. We report two field experiments conducted in Colombia and Kenya. The Irrigation Game was used to explore the provision and appropriation decisions under asymmetric or sequential appropriation, complemented with a Voluntary Contribution Mechanism experiment which looks at provision decisions under symmetric appropriation. The overall results were consistent with the patterns of previous studies: the zero contribution hypotheses is rejected whereas the most effective institution to increase cooperation was face-to-face communication, and above external regulations, although we find that communication works much more effectively in Colombia. We also find that the asymmetric appropriation did reduce cooperation, though the magnitude of the social loss and the effectiveness of alternative institutional options varied across sites.
    Date: 2009–11–15
  11. By: Armstrong, Mark; Huck, Steffen
    Abstract: We discuss the literatures on behavioral economics, bounded rationality and experimental economics as they apply to firm behavior in markets. Topics discussed include the impact of imitative and satisficing behavior by firms, outcomes when managers care about their position relative to peers, the benefits of employing managers whose objective diverges from profit-maximization (including managers who are overconfident or base pricing decisions on sunk costs), the impact of social preferences on the ability to collude, and the incentive for profit-maximizing firms to mimic irrational behavior.
    Keywords: Behavioral economics; bounded rationality; experimental economics; oligopoly; antitrust
    JEL: D21 C92 D43
    Date: 2010–01
  12. By: Goschin, Zizi; Constantin, Daniela-Luminita; Roman , Monica
    Abstract: Trafficking in persons is a multi-sided phenomenon accompanying the current migration flows, therefore, the actions that must be undertaken in order to prevent, combat the phenomenon as well as to assist the victims of trafficking require a large partnership between all the actors involved: international organisations, governmental institutions and representatives of civil society. The special psychological, ethical issues raised especially by trafficking prevention and assistance to victims make the church and various religious organisations play a very important role in the corresponding networks at both international and national level. Even if the integration of the church in the networks fighting against TP has been quite largely addressed worldwide, there are but few studies undertaken in Romania in this area. Our paper opens the room for dialogue among the researchers interested in this topic from an interdisciplinary perspective to discuss the possibilities to establish sustainable partnerships between the state and the church against trafficking in persons. With this aim in view, we have first carried out a quantitative analysis of the scope and dynamics of trafficking in persons in Romania focusing on the victims’ profile by exploitation type. The main socio-demographic characteristics (gender, age, schooling, area of origin) have been considered in order to identify the vulnerability factors related to the risk involved by trafficking, both at national and regional level. We have also examined the responses in legislative and institutional terms, with a special emphasis on the collaboration between the state and the church in preventing and combating trafficking in persons. Of special relevance are the conclusions resulted from the field research undertaken in the area covered by the Diocese of Maramures and Satu Mare.
    Keywords: trafficking in persons; exploitation; gender differentiation; governmental policy; civil society; church; partnership; prevention; combating; assistance to victims
    JEL: R23
    Date: 2009–05–01
  13. By: Tulbure, Narcis; Catarama, Delia
    Abstract: This paper explores the institutional and socio-cultural factors explaining the differential development and growth rates of the mutual fund industry in a sample of 41 countries. It draws on multivariate OLS regressions. It shows that the development of mutual funds is influenced positively by regulatory quality and economic and financial system development, but it is negatively related to the presence of a Lamfalussy type regulatory framework (as in all member states of the European Union). Also, widespread belief in work as the legitimate source of monetary gain seems to be negatively associated with mutual fund development. The growth rates of national mutual fund industries are negatively related to general economic development. The negative coefficient of the variable coding for regulatory quality indicates that a poorer regulation of the field (when compared to the developed countries) does not necessarily inhibit growth, especially in the case of young industries. Lamfalussy regulations do not have any significant effect on mutual fund growth. At the same time, mutual fund industries have grown most rapidly in countries with high percentages of Muslim and Christina Orthodox believers.
    Keywords: mutual funds; the Lamfalussy process; quality of regulations; work and money; socio-cultural values; religion and finance
    JEL: O17 G38 G23 K22 Z13
    Date: 2009–07–01

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