nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2010‒06‒11
eleven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
University of Siena

  1. Not driving alone: Commuting in the Twenty-first century By Stephen B. DeLoach; Thomas Tiemann
  2. Social Connections, Networks, and Social Capital Erosion: Evidence from Surveys and Field Experiments By Yazhen Gong
  3. Should I stay or should I go? An institutional approach to brain drain By Lea Cassar; Bruno S. Frey
  4. Trust in whole networks in the public and nonprofit sector: The impact of public sector characteristics? By A. WILLEM;
  5. Passage, Profit, Protection and the Challenge of Participation By Landau, Loren B.
  6. Why are good comparative studies of networks so rare? Practical lessons from a study on French clusters By Thierry Weil; Anna Glaser; Emilie-Pauline Gallié; Valérie Mérindol; Philippe Lefebvre; Frédérique Pallez
  7. The spatial diffusion of social conformity: the case of voting participation By Coleman, Stephen
  8. Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Tell Me Who to Follow! - Field Experiment Evidence on Voluntary Donations By Alpízar, Francisco; Martinsson, Peter
  9. Multi-Level Trust Game with “Insider” Communication By Roman M. Sheremeta; Jingjing Zhang
  10. Network formation with heterogeneous agents and absolute friction By J. VANDENBOSSCHE; T. DEMUYNCK;
  11. Is economics coursework, or majoring in economics, associated with different civic behaviors? By Sam Allgood; William Bosshardt; Wilbert van der Klaauw; Michael Watts

  1. By: Stephen B. DeLoach (Department of Economics, Elon University); Thomas Tiemann (Department of Economics, Elon University)
    Abstract: This paper investigates recent commuting trends in American workers. Unlike most studies of commuting that rely on Census data, this study utilizes the unique American Time Use Survey to detail the complex commuting patterns of modern-day workers. The data confirm what has been suspected, that incidence of driving alone has decreased substantially in recent years while carpooling has rebounded. The results from the multi-nominal logistic estimation of workersÕ commuting choices yield support for both the traditional economic determinants as well as for the newer, socio-economic factors. In addition to the cost savings, many commuters appear to value the social aspect of carpooling. Surprisingly, there is little evidence that the need for autonomy plays much of a factor in explaining workerÕs choice of the journey to work. The estimated short-run ÒelasticityÓ of carpooling with respect to real gas prices appears to be quite high and largely accounts for the significant decline in the incidence of Òdriving aloneÓ.
    Keywords: Ride sharing, carpooling, commuting, gasoline process, social capital
    JEL: R4
    Date: 2010–03–22
  2. By: Yazhen Gong
    Abstract: Measuring trust, a cognitive social capital that can significantly affect cooperation among individuals and groups to take collective actions for joint benefits, is an important empirical research. This study aimed to understand the determinants of social capital with specific focus on the effect of individuals' bonding social capital and bridging social capital. It explored the methods of measuring trust and identified the determining factors affecting trust/trustworthiness among village members in southwestern China's Yunnan province. A survey was done on 600 farmers in 30 administrative villages. A trust game was conducted using the respondents as subjects of the experiments, 300 playing the role of senders and 300 playing the role of receivers. Results showed that education level could positively and significantly predict both players' behaviors. The percentage of expenditure on gift exchange in the sender's total family expenditure and trust measured were robust to the model's specifications and could almost predict the sender's behavior. Meanwhile, there was no significant evidence the surveyed trust could predict the receiver's behavior. The village's openness to the market and outside world also negatively and significantly predicted both players' behaviors. It showed that the receiver's family participation in closed versus opened networks had an opposite impact on receiver's behavior. Hence, social connection variables could play more important roles than individual demographic characteristics in interactions that involve social capital. However, social capital could be eroded when the villages become more open to the outside world and when informal institutions are gradually substituted by modern formal institutions.
    Keywords: erosion, China
    Date: 2010–04
  3. By: Lea Cassar; Bruno S. Frey
    Abstract: This paper suggests that institutional factors which reward social networks at the expenses of productivity can play an important role in explaining brain drain. The effects of social networks on brain drain are analyzed in a decision theory framework with asymmetric information. We distinguish between the role of insidership and personal connections. The larger the cost of being an outsider, the smaller is the number and the average ability of researchers working in the domestic job market. Personal connections partly compensate for this effect by attracting highly connected researchers back. However, starting from a world with no distortions, personal connections also increase brain drain.
    Keywords: Brain drain, social networks, institutions, asymmetric information, Italian academia
    JEL: D82 F22 I20 J24 J44
    Date: 2010–06
  4. By: A. WILLEM;
    Abstract: This article argues that networks in the public and nonprofit sector have typical characteristics that might impede the functioning of whole networks and, in particular, the development of affect-based and cognition-based trust. Such characteristics are related to safeguarding public sector values, power imbalance due to the mandatory and vertical character of the network, and effectiveness of networks in the public and nonprofit sector. Network types (i.e. network-administrative organization, lead organization, and shared governance) are suggested as potential moderators in reducing dysfunctionalities in public and nonprofit networks. In a sample of 54 networks, the effects of the assumed network dysfunctionalities on the two types of trust in the different types of networks were studied using a multilevel approach. Findings indicated that especially flexibility in the networks was important. Several characteristics of public and nonprofit networks were less problematic than expected.
    Keywords: networks, network types, public and nonprofit sector, trust
    Date: 2010–03
  5. By: Landau, Loren B.
    Abstract: Accepting that successful 'development' is premised on a population's participation in a collective undertaking, we must understand urban residents' interactions and ambitions. In African cities being transformed by geographic and social mobility, it is u
    Keywords: migration, urbanization, African cities, social cohesion, integration,
    Date: 2010
  6. By: Thierry Weil (CERNA - Centre d'économie industrielle - Mines ParisTech); Anna Glaser (CERNA - Centre d'économie industrielle - Mines ParisTech); Emilie-Pauline Gallié (IMRI, Université Paris Dauphine - Institut pour le management de la recherche et de l'innovation - Université Paris Dauphine - Paris IX); Valérie Mérindol (IMRI - Université Paris Dauphine - Paris IX); Philippe Lefebvre (CGS - Centre de Gestion Scientifique - Mines ParisTech); Frédérique Pallez (CGS - Centre de Gestion Scientifique - Mines ParisTech)
    Abstract: French “competitiveness clusters” were set up in 2005 to strengthen cooperation between small and large enterprises, and training and research institutions working on similar topics and located in the same geographical area, with the aim of making this area more competitive and attractive through enhanced innovation. Our analysis of this set of about 70 apparently similar networks, on which much data were collected, has given us an opportunity to investigate the factors explaining the differences in their performance.
    Keywords: Clusters, networks, network performance, context, innovation policy
    Date: 2010
  7. By: Coleman, Stephen
    Abstract: Social interaction combined with social conformity spreads attitudes and behaviors through a society. This paper examines such a process geographically for compliance with the norm that good citizens should vote. The diffusion of conformist behavior affects the local degree of conformity with the norm and produces highly specific and predictable patterns of behavior across a country. These are demonstrated with qualitative and quantitative spatial analysis of voter turnout in the United States and Russia.
    Keywords: social conformity; norm compliance; voting; spatial analysis; United States; Russia; mathematical model; diffusion
    JEL: Z13 C31 D72
    Date: 2010–06–03
  8. By: Alpízar, Francisco (Environment for Development Center for Central America, CATIE); Martinsson, Peter (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: We conducted a field experiment in a protected area to explore the effects of conformity to a social reference versus a comparable, but imposed, suggested donation. As observed before, we see visitors conforming to the changing social reference. On the other hand, the treatment in which we suggested a donation resulted in lower shares of visitors donating, compared to the social reference treatment, and lower conditional donations even compared to the control. We concluded that visitors look at their peers as a reference to conform to, but partially reject being confronted with an imposed suggestion on how to behave.<p>
    Keywords: Conformity; donation; field experiment
    JEL: C93 D10 D60 Q50
    Date: 2010–06–02
  9. By: Roman M. Sheremeta (Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University); Jingjing Zhang (Department of Economics, McMaster University)
    Abstract: This experiment studies the internal and external effects of communication in a multilevel trust game. In this trust game, the first player can send any part of his endowment to the second player. The amount sent gets tripled. The second player decides how much to send to the third player. The amount is again tripled, and the third player then decides the allocation among the three players. The baseline treatment with no communication shows that the first and second players send significant amounts and the third player reciprocates. When we allow communication only between the second and third players, the amounts sent and returned between these two increase. The new interesting finding is that there are external effects of communication: the first player who is outside communication sends 60% more and receives 140% more than in the no communication treatment. As a result, social welfare and efficiency increase from 48% to 73%.
    Keywords: multi-level trust games, experiments, reciprocity, communication
    JEL: C72 C91 D72
    Date: 2009–09
    Abstract: We present a model of endogenous network formation with absolute friction and heterogeneous agents. The individual payoffs from a given network are determined by the difference of an agent specific utility function that depends on the number of his/her direct links and the sum of his/her link-costs. These link-costs decompose in a symmetric function that represents the social and geographical distance between the two agents and an agent specific function representing the partner’s wealth and status. From a theoretical point of view, we define a new stability concept that is situated between the notions of pairwise stability (see Jackson and Wolinsky (1996)) and strong stability (see Dutta and Mutuswami (1997)). We show that our model has a unique stable network and we demonstrate that it is also strongly stable. As such, we provide uniqueness and existence for a whole range of stability concepts situated between our new stability concept and strong stability. From a practical point of view, we provide an algorithm that reproduces this stable network from information on the individual payoff structure. We illustrate the use of this algorithm by applying it to an informal insurance data set from the village of Nyakatoke in rural Tanzania.
    Keywords: network formation, heterogeneity, absolute friction
    JEL: C62 C78 C79
    Date: 2010–02
  11. By: Sam Allgood; William Bosshardt; Wilbert van der Klaauw; Michael Watts
    Abstract: Studies regularly link levels of educational attainment to civic behavior and attitudes, but only a few investigate the role played by specific coursework. Using data collected from students who attended one of four public universities in our study, we investigate the relationship between economics coursework and civic behavior after graduation. Drawing from large samples of students in economics, business, or general majors, we compare responses across the three groups and by the number of undergraduate economics courses completed. We find that undergraduate coursework in economics is strongly associated with political party affiliation and with donations to candidates or parties, but not with the decision to vote or not vote. Nor is studying economics correlated with the likelihood (or intensity of) volunteerism. While we find that the civic behavior of economics majors and business majors is similar, it appears that business majors are less likely than general majors to engage in time-consuming behaviors such as voting and volunteering. Finally, we extend earlier studies that address the link between economics coursework and attitudes on public policy issues, finding that graduates who studied more economics usually reported attitudes closer to those expressed in national surveys of U.S. economists. Interestingly, we find the public policy attitudes of business majors to be more like those of general majors than of economics majors.
    Keywords: Education ; Economics - Study and teaching ; Business and education ; Human behavior ; Volunteers
    Date: 2010

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