nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2010‒05‒15
fifteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
University of Siena

  1. Do religious contexts elicit more trust and altruism? An experiment on Facebook By Bradley J. Ruffle; Richard Sosis
  2. Does Fiscal Decentralization Strengthen Social Capital? Cross-Country Evidence and the Experiences of Brazil and Indonesia By Luiz de Mello
  3. Reconciling Pro-Social vs. Selfish Behavior - Evidence for the Role of Self-Control By Martinsson, Peter; Myrseth, Kristian Ove R.; Wollbrant, Conny
  4. Gift-Exchange, Incentives, and Heterogeneous Workers By Arjan Non
  5. Endogenous Job Contact Networks By Galeotti A; Merlino L
  6. Do Parents' Social Skills Influence Their Children's Sociability? By Okumura, Tsunao; Usui, Emiko
  7. An Economist’s Guide to Heaven By muller, Nick; gray, jo anna; stone, joe
  8. An experimental analysis of team production in networks By Enrique Fatas; Miguel A. Melendez Jimenez; Hector Solaz
  9. Competing Activities in Social Networks By Mohamed Belhaj; Frédéric Deroïan
  10. Network Topology and Equilibrium Existence in Weighted Network Congestion Games By Igal Milchtaich
  11. Social Comparison and Risky Choices By Jona Linde; Joep Sonnemans
  12. Sustainable Heterogeneity: Inequality, Growth, and Social Welfare in a Heterogeneous Population By Harashima, Taiji
  13. Secularization, union formation practices and marital stability: Evidence from Italy By Roberto Impicciatore; Francesco Billari
  14. Serving the Many or Serving the Most Needy? By Christoph Starke
  15. Testing Kahneman's Attitudinal WTP Hypothesis By Ryan, Anthony M.; Spash, Clive L.

  1. By: Bradley J. Ruffle (Department of Economics, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev); Richard Sosis (Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut)
    Abstract: We design a decision-making scenario experiment on Facebook to measure subjects’ altruism and trust toward attendees of a religious service, a fitness class and a local music performance. Secular and religious subjects alike display significantly more altruism and trust toward the synagogue attendees than participants at the other two venues. By all measures of religiosity, even the most secular subjects behave more prosocially in the religious venue than in the comparable non-religious settings. We also find that secular subjects are just as altruistic toward synagogue and prayer group members as religious subjects are. These findings support recent theories that emphasize the pivotal role of religious context in arousing high levels of prosociality among those who are religious. Finally, our results offer startlingly little evidence for the widely documented religious-secular divide in Israel.
    Keywords: religion, trust, altruism, religious context, religious-secular conflict
    Date: 2010
  2. By: Luiz de Mello (OECD Economics Department)
    Abstract: This paper tests the hypothesis that, by giving people more voice in the government decision-making process, fiscal decentralisation fosters social capital, measured in terms of interpersonal trust. Empirical evidence based on World Values Survey data and seemingly unrelated probit estimations for a cross-section of countries suggests that people living in federal/decentralised countries find it more important than their counterparts living in unitary/centralised countries to have voice in government decisions, which, in turn, is associated with greater social capital. The cross-country estimations are complemented by country-specific regressions for Brazil and Indonesia on account of these countries’ experiences with fiscal decentralisation. The results show that the cohorts of individuals that have been exposed to decentralisation are in general more pro-voice (and trustful of strangers in the case of Brazil) than their counterparts that have not been exposed to decentralisation. These findings are not driven by the effects of political liberalisation on people’s attitudes towards the importance of having voice in government decisions and interpersonal trust.
    Keywords: Federalism, decentralisation, social capital, Brazil, Indonesia
    Date: 2010–02–01
  3. By: Martinsson, Peter (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Myrseth, Kristian Ove R. (ESMT European School of Management and Technology); Wollbrant, Conny (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: We test the proposition that individuals may experience a self-control conflict between short-term temptation to be selfish and better judgment to act pro-socially. Using a dictator game and a public goods game, we manipulated the likelihood that individuals identified self-control conflict, and we measured their trait ability to implement self-control strategies. Consistent with our hypothesis, we find that trait self-control exhibits a positive and significant correlation with pro-social behavior in the treatment that raises likelihood of conflict identification, but not in the treatment that reduces likelihood of conflict identification.<p>
    Keywords: self-control; pro-social behavior; altruism; experiment.
    JEL: D01 D64 D70
    Date: 2010–05–10
  4. By: Arjan Non (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
    Abstract: Using a formal principal-agent model, I investigate the relation between monetary gift-exchange and incentive pay, while allowing for worker heterogeneity. I assume that some agents care more for their principal when they are convinced that the principal cares for them. Principals can signal their altruism by offering a generous contract, consisting of a base salary and an output-contingent bonus. I find that principals signal their altruism by offering relatively weak incentives and a relatively high expected total compensation, but the latter does not necessarily hold. Furthermore, since some agents do not reciprocate the principal's altruism, the principal may find it optimal to write a contract that simultaneously signals his altruism and screens reciprocal worker types. I show that such a contract is characterised by excessively strong incentives and relatively high expected total compensation.
    Keywords: reciprocity; gift-exchange; signaling game; incentive contracts; screening
    JEL: D86 J41 M52 M55
    Date: 2010–01–06
  5. By: Galeotti A (Department of Economics, University of Essex); Merlino L (ECARES, Universitè Libre de Bruxelles)
    Abstract: We develop a model where workers, anticipating the possibility of unemployment, invest in connections to access information about available jobs. The investment in connections is high when the job separation rate is moderate, otherwise the investment in connections is low. The response of network investment to labor market conditions generates novel predictions. In particular, the probability that a worker finds a new job via his connections increases in the separation rate, when the separation rate is low, and it decreases otherwise. These predictions are supported by the empirical patterns which we document for the UK labor market.
    Date: 2010–05–04
  6. By: Okumura, Tsunao; Usui, Emiko
    Abstract: Several studies find that social skills are important determinants of labor market outcomes, including occupation and wages. This paper examines the causal effect of parents' social skills on children's sociability, using the U.S. National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79). This survey, like some other national surveys, lacks detailed information on parents; to remedy this deficiency we use occupational characteristics from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) to proxy for parental skills. By utilizing various measures of social skills, we find that parents' social skills have a positive effect on children’s sociability along gender lines.
    Keywords: Social skills, Intergenerational correlations, Occupational characteristics
    JEL: J24 J62
    Date: 2010–03
  7. By: muller, Nick; gray, jo anna; stone, joe
    Abstract: This paper is the first to offer an economic model of God and humanity as optimizing agents in the context of concrete belief archetypes (religious ‘contracts’) in Judeo-Christian theology. Data support the model’s unique predictions, despite their otherwise counterintuitive, unlikely nature. For example, the model requires that in one belief archetype, ‘good works’ not increase with strength of faith, as one might otherwise expect, and that what appears may be God’s dominant contract precisely balances divine penalties for reneging on promises with incentives to seek divine ‘gifts’—an equivalence supported in the data.
    Keywords: economics;religion
    JEL: A1
    Date: 2010–03
  8. By: Enrique Fatas (ERI-CES); Miguel A. Melendez Jimenez (University of Malaga); Hector Solaz (ERI-CES)
    Abstract: Experimental and empirical evidence highlights the role of networks on social outcomes. In this paper we test the properties of exogenously fixed networks in team production. Subjects make the same decisions in a team-work environment under four different organizational networks: The line, the circle, the star, and the complete network. In all the networks, links make information available to neighbors. This design allows us to analyze decisions across networks and a variety of subjects’ types in a standard linear team production game. Contribution levels differ significantly across networks and the star is the most efficient incomplete one. Moreover, our results suggest that subjects act as conditional cooperators with respect to the information received from the network.
    Keywords: public goods, networks, experiments
    JEL: H41 C92
    Date: 2010–05
  9. By: Mohamed Belhaj (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - Université de la Méditerranée - Aix-Marseille II - Université Paul Cézanne - Aix-Marseille III - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - CNRS : UMR6579); Frédéric Deroïan (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - Université de la Méditerranée - Aix-Marseille II - Université Paul Cézanne - Aix-Marseille III - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - CNRS : UMR6579)
    Abstract: A set of agents is organized in a social network, which conveys synergies in two activities. Each agent has one unit of a resource to allocate between two activities. We show that individual choices are shaped by Bonacich centrality measures and an attractiveness multiplier. The latter, combined with the elasticity of Bonacich centrality with respect to the intensity of interaction, drives the sign of the network reaction to a modication of the costs of activities.
    Keywords: Social Network, Limited Resource, Competing Activities, Attractiveness Multiplier, Elasticity of Bonacich Centrality.
    Date: 2010–05–06
  10. By: Igal Milchtaich (Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University)
    Abstract: Every finite noncooperative game can be presented as a weighted network congestion game, and also as a network congestion game with player-specific costs. In the first presentation, different players may contribute differently to congestion, and in the second, they are differently (negatively) affected by it. This paper shows that the topology of the underlying (undirected two-terminal) network provides information about the existence of pure-strategy Nash equilibrium in the game. For some networks, but not for others, every corresponding game has at least one such equilibrium. For the weighted presentation, a complete characterization of the networks with this property is given. The necessary and sufficient condition is that the network has at most three routes that do traverse any edge in opposite directions, or it consists of several such networks connected in series. The corresponding problem for player-specific costs remains open.
    Keywords: Congestion games, network topology, existence of equilibrium
    JEL: C72
    Date: 2010–05
  11. By: Jona Linde (University of Amsterdam); Joep Sonnemans (University of Amsterdam)
    Abstract: This study attempts to combine two traditional fields in microeconomics: individual decision making under risk and decision making in an interpersonal context. The influence of social comparison on risky choices is explored in an experiment in which participants make a series of choices between lotteries with only positive outcomes. Three kinds of choice situations are employed. In the loss and gain context the social referent receives a fixed payoff that is respectively higher and lower than all possible payoffs of the decision maker. In the neutral context social referent and decision maker will always earn the same amount. In the gain and loss contexts the decision maker has no influence on the earnings of the social referent so strategic behavior or social preferences can play no role. We find that decision makers are more risk-averse in the loss context than in the gain context, with the behavior in the neutral context in between. This result is in opposition to the predictions of prospect theory extrapolated to a social context.
    Keywords: Social comparison; social preferences; decision making under risk; experiment
    JEL: C91 C92 D63
    Date: 2009–11–11
  12. By: Harashima, Taiji
    Abstract: This paper studies social welfare in a heterogeneous population under the criteria of efficiency and sustainable heterogeneity. As is well known, heterogeneity in time preference results in substantial inequality. This paper shows that, even if households have heterogeneous preferences, there is a balanced growth path on which all the optimality conditions of all heterogeneous households are equally and indefinitely satisfied, and heterogeneity is sustainable on this path. The existence of a unique sustainable path will shed new light on social welfare issues, but this path cannot necessarily be naturally obtained by relying only on markets. Sustainable heterogeneity is politically fragile and requires rational―not unconditional―sacrifice and altruism, and interventions by the authority are justified. Sustainable heterogeneity indicates that globalization should be accompanied by measures that support developing countries and that a GDP modified for measures of sustainable heterogeneity may more correctly measure people’s “happiness.” However, it also indicates that inequality is necessary for sustainability and a unique sustainable level of inequality exists.
    Keywords: Sustainability; Heterogeneity; Inequality; Growth; Social welfare; Altruism; Globalization; International trade
    JEL: O11 I30 F40 D63 O41 D64 I38 E20
    Date: 2010–05–06
  13. By: Roberto Impicciatore; Francesco Billari
    Abstract: Using descriptive statistics, civil marriages and marriages preceded by premarital cohabitation are more unstable, i.e., more frequently followed by divorce. However, the literature has shown that selectivity plays an important role in the relationship between premarital cohabitation and union dissolution. We do not have evidence to date regarding the selectivity in the effect of civil marriage. The Italian case appears particularly interesting given the recent diffusion of premarital cohabitation and civil marriage. Using micro-level data from a national-level representative survey held in 2003, we develop a multiprocess model that allows unobserved heterogeneity to be correlated across the three decisions (premarital cohabitation, civil marriage, and divorce). Our results show that selectivity is the main factor that explains the higher divorce rates among those who experience premarital cohabitation and a civil marriage. Net of selectivity, the causal effect on union dissolution disappears.
    Keywords: divorce, cohabitation, civil marriage, religion, multiprocess models, selectivity
    JEL: J12
    Date: 2010–05
  14. By: Christoph Starke (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)
    Abstract: For free, subsidized or cost-covering? The decision on how much to charge for a good or service is fundamental in social business planning. The higher the fee paid by the recipient, the more people in need can be served by the additional revenues. But charging a fee means simultaneously to exclude the very poor from consumption. This paper argues that the entrepreneur’s trade off between both effects is governed by her level of poverty aversion, i.e., her preference intensity for the service of needy people with different incomes. Additionally, we account for the possibility of excess demand for the provided good and assume that applicants are rationed by non-price allocation mechanisms. We thereby contribute to the extensive literature on the pricing and rationing behaviour of nonprofit firms. Within our theoretical model, we find ambiguous reactions of the entrepreneur to a cut in donations. Given a sufficiently low level of status-quo donations, entrepreneurs with relatively high poverty aversion tend to increase the project volume, while those with relatively low poverty aversion do the opposite.
    Keywords: allocation mechanism, donation, nonprofit, poverty aversion, social entrepreneur, user fee
    JEL: L31 H41 D45
    Date: 2010–01
  15. By: Ryan, Anthony M.; Spash, Clive L.
    Abstract: A psychological interpretation of willingness to pay (WTP) bids arising from the Contingent Valuation Method (CVM) claims they represent a general contribution towards environmental causes rather than a personal economic valuation. Yet the evidence supporting this contribution model has been criticised for using group mean correlations to draw conclusions about individual motives. This paper avoids this problem by examining motives at an individual level. Evidence reported shows the need to qualify the role of the attitudinal explanation. Some, but not all, positive WTP bids are found to be based on contributory rather than economic motives, while the decision to bid zero or positive appears to represent a general psychological appraisal rather than being purely related to attitudes.
    Keywords: Contingent Valuation Method; Social Psychology; Environmental Valuation
    JEL: A13 H41 Q51
    Date: 2010–05

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