nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2011‒01‒16
thirteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini

  1. Social connectedness and retirement By Sarah Smith
  2. Attitudes towards blood and living organ donations. By Juan M. Cabasés Hita; María Errea Rodríguez
  3. International Happiness By David G. Blanchflower; Andrew J. Oswald
  4. Corruption and the military in politics: theory and evidence from around the world By Muhammad Tariq Majeed; Ronald MacDonald
  5. Happy House: Spousal Weight and Individual Well-Being By Andrew E. Clark; Fabrice Etilé
  6. Grandparenting and mothers’ labour force participation: A comparative analysis using the Generations and Gender Survey By Arnstein Aassve; Bruno Arpino; Alice Goisis
  7. Family Policies in the Context of Low Fertility and Social Structure. By Thomas Fent; Belinda Aparicio Diaz; Alexia Prskawetz
  8. The Dynamics of the Inventor Network in German Biotechnology: Geographical Proximity versus Triadic Closure By Anne L.J. Ter Wal
  9. Competitive capabilities in territorially clustered firms: The strong-tied and cognitive-cohesive social network effect By Bárbara Larrañeta Gómez-Caminero; F. Xavier Molina-Morales
  10. Emigration and democracy By Frédéric Docquier; Elisabetta Lodigiani; Hillel Rapoport; Maurice Schiff
  11. Conveniently Upset: Avoiding Altruism by Distorting Beliefs About Others By Rafael Di Tella; Ricardo Pérez-Truglia
  12. Martha Nussbaum’s Outcome-Oriented Theory of Justice: Philosophical Comments By Cathrine Holst

  1. By: Sarah Smith
    Abstract: It has been suggested that social connectedness is potentially important for a healthy and happy retirement. This paper presents evidence that levels of social connectedness (defined as being active in social organisations) increase at retirement, by 25 per cent compared to pre-retirement levels. However, there is not a consistently strong and positive association between social connectedness and health and well-being in retirement for everyone. Rather, the evidence suggests that social connectedness may matter most in bad times.
    Keywords: Social capital, retirement, health and well-being
    JEL: I12 J14
    Date: 2010–12
  2. By: Juan M. Cabasés Hita (Departamento de Economía-UPNA); María Errea Rodríguez (Departamento de Economía-UPNA)
    Abstract: We model the decision of whether or not to become a blood/living organ donor. The expected utility for becoming a donor is a function of the degree of altruism, the consumption of goods, the costs of donation, the very pleasure of giving, and the recipient’s utility associated to donation. Empirically, we observe differences in the expected costs and benefits from donation between blood and non-blood donors, and between individuals with different willingness to donate living organs. Looking at benefits/costs of donation through reasons for donating/not donating, we conclude policies to encourage donation should focus on raising awareness and provide information.
    Keywords: altruism, uncertainty, blood donations, living organ donations
    JEL: D6 D8 D9 I1
    Date: 2010
  3. By: David G. Blanchflower; Andrew J. Oswald
    Abstract: This paper describes the findings from a new, and intrinsically interdisciplinary, literature on happiness and human well-being. The paper focuses on international evidence. We report the patterns in modern data; we discuss what has been persuasively established and what has not; we suggest paths for future research. Looking ahead, our instinct is that this social-science research avenue will gradually merge with a related literature -- from the medical, epidemiological, and biological sciences -- on biomarkers and health. Nevertheless, we expect that intellectual convergence to happen slowly.
    JEL: I1 I3
    Date: 2011–01
  4. By: Muhammad Tariq Majeed; Ronald MacDonald
    Abstract: Recent theoretical developments and case study evidence suggests a relationship between the military in politics and corruption. This study contributes to this literature by analyzing theoretically and empirically the role of the military in politics and corruption for the first time. By drawing on a cross sectional and panel data set covering a large number of countries, over the period 1984-2007, and using a variety of econometric methods substantial empirical support is found for a positive relationship between the military in politics and corruption. In sum, our results reveal that a one standard deviation increase in the military in politics leads to a 0.22 unit increase in corruption index. This relationship is shown to be robust to a variety of specification changes, different econometric techniques, different sample sizes, alternative corruption indices and the exclusion of outliers. This study suggests that the explanatory power of the military in politics is at least as important as the conventionally accepted causes of corruption, such as economic development.
    Keywords: corruption; military in politics; cross sectional; panel data
    JEL: C23 D72 K42 H1
    Date: 2010–12
  5. By: Andrew E. Clark; Fabrice Etilé
    Abstract: We use life satisfaction and Body Mass Index (BMI) information from three waves of the SOEP to test for social interactions in BMI between spouses. Social interactions require that the cross-partial effect of partner's weight and own weight in the utility function be positive. Using life satisfaction as a utility proxy, semi-parametric regressions show that the correlation between satisfaction and own BMI is initially positive, but turns negative after some threshold. Critically, this latter threshold increases with partner¿s BMI when the individual is overweight. The negative well-being impact of own BMI is thus lower when the individual's partner is heavier, which is consistent with social contagion effects in weight. However, this cross-partial effect becomes insignificant in instrumental variable regressions, suggesting that the uninstrumented relationship reflects selection on the marriage market or omitted variables, rather than social interactions.
    Keywords: Obesity, subjective well-being, BMI, social interactions
    JEL: C14 I12 I3
    Date: 2010
  6. By: Arnstein Aassve; Bruno Arpino; Alice Goisis
    Abstract: Using data from seven countries drawn from the Generations and Gender Survey, we study the relationship between informal childcare provided by grandparents and mothers’ employment. The extent of formal childcare varies substantially across European countries and so does the role of grandparents in helping out rearing children. The extent of grandparenting also depends on their attitudes, which in turn relates to social norms and availability of public childcare, and hence the country context where individuals reside matters considerably. Within families, attitudes toward childcare are associated with attitudes towards women’s working decisions. The fact that we do not observe these attitudes may bias the estimates. By using instrumental variable techniques we find that only in some countries mothers’ employment is positively and significantly associated with grandparents providing childcare. In other countries, once we control for unobserved attitudes we do not find this effect.
    Keywords: female labour market participation, grandparents, childcare, attitudes, omitted variable bias
    Date: 2011–01
  7. By: Thomas Fent; Belinda Aparicio Diaz; Alexia Prskawetz
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is to analyse the effectivity of family policies in the context of different assumptions regarding the social structure of a society. We use an agent based simulation model to analyse the impact of family policies on individual fertility decisions and on cohort fertility, intended fertility, and the fertility gap on the aggregate level. The crucial features of our simulation model are the agents' heterogeneity with respect to age, income, parity, and intended fertility, the social network and social influence. Our results indicate that both fixed and income dependent child supports have a positive and significant impact on fertility. However, several network and social influence parameters have the ability not only to influence fertility itself but also the effectivity of family policies. Therefore, policymakers aiming to transfer a certain policy mix that has proved successful from one country to another one ignoring differences in the social structure may fail. Family policies can only be successful if they explicitly take into account the characteristics of the society they are assigned for.
    Keywords: Family policies, low fertility, social influence, social networks, social structure.
    Date: 2010–12
  8. By: Anne L.J. Ter Wal
    Abstract: Economic geography has developed a stronghold analysing how geography impacts innovation. Yet, despite increased interest in networks, a critical assessment of the role of geography in the evolution of networks is still lacking. This paper juxtaposes geographical proximity with the network of prior ties as alternative mechanisms for tie formation. Analysing the evolution of inventor networks in German biotechnology, the paper theoretically argues and empirically demonstrates that - as the technological regime of an industry changes over time - inventors increasingly rely on network resources by forming links to partners of partners, whilst the direct impact of geographical proximity on tie formation decreases.
    Keywords: network evolution, geographical proximity, triadic closure, inventor networks
    JEL: D85 L14 L65 R11
    Date: 2011–01
  9. By: Bárbara Larrañeta Gómez-Caminero (Department of Business Administration, Universidad Pablo de Olavide); F. Xavier Molina-Morales (Department of Business Administration & Marketing, Universitat Jaume I Castellon)
    Abstract: Recent studies are supporting the idea that understanding the dynamics of firms’ value creation requires a complex and indirect association with their relational or social resources. In particular, in bounded geographical contexts this approach is replacing initial, perhaps too simplistic, assumptions. With this paper our aim is to contribute to this growing stream of research. The work focuses on the specific effects of the strength of ties and the cognitive cohesion of clustered firms on the development of their competitive capabilities. We formed a unique dataset based on a sample of 116 clustered firms from the Spanish fishing sector, where competition is based on efficiency more than on differentiation or any other valuable activity. Our results show that the cognitive cohesion of a clustered firm has a positive curvilinear relation with its competitive capabilities. Yet, contrary to expectations, the strength of ties of a clustered firm has a significant negative curvilinear relation with its competitive capabilities. The implications and contribution of our findings to the literature on both social capital and regional clusters are discussed.
    Keywords: Social capital, tie strength, cognitive cohesion, regional clusters, competitive capabilities.
    Date: 2010–12
  10. By: Frédéric Docquier (FNRS and IRES, Université Catholique de Louvain); Elisabetta Lodigiani (CREA, Université du Luxembourg; and Centro Studi Luca d’Agliano); Hillel Rapoport (CID, Harvard University; Bar-Ilan University; and EQUIPPE); Maurice Schiff (World Bank, Development Economics Research Group)
    Abstract: Migration is an important and yet neglected determinant of institutions. The paper documents the channels through which emigration affects home country institutions and considers dynamic-panel regressions for a large sample of developing countries. We find tat emigration and human capital both increase democracy and economic freedom. This implies that unskilled (skilled) emigration has a positive (ambiguous) impact on institutional quality. Simulations show an impact of skilled emigration that is generally positive, significant for a few countries in the short run and for many countries in the long run once incentive effects of emigration on human capital formation are accounted for.
    Keywords: Migration, institutions, democracy, diaspora effects, brain drain.
    JEL: O1 F22
    Date: 2011–01
  11. By: Rafael Di Tella; Ricardo Pérez-Truglia
    Abstract: In this paper we present the results from a “corruption game” (a dictator game modified so that the second player can accept a side payment that reduces the overall size of the pie). Dictators (silently) treated to have the possibility of taking a larger proportion of the recipient’s tokens, take more of them. They were also more likely to report believing that the recipient would accept a low price in exchange for a side payment; and selected larger numbers as their best guess of the likely proportion of recipients acting “unfairly”. The results favor the hypothesis that people avoid altruistic actions by distorting beliefs about others.
    JEL: E62 P16
    Date: 2010–12
  12. By: Cathrine Holst
    Abstract: The capability approach developed by Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen has received substantial attention in recent years, in philosophical exchanges as well as in more applied discussions on policy-making, in particular in developing countries, but lately also in Western countries, including Europe and the EU. This paper contributes to the philosophical exchanges of Nussbaum’s version of the capability approach. Nussbaum herself presents her contribution as an alternative to John Rawls’ theory of justice, and following her lead, this paper compares Nussbaum and Rawls. The first part presents Nussbaum’s position and how it differs from Rawls’; the second and third parts develop arguments against substituting primary goods and a procedural justification of justice (Rawls) with capabilities and an ethical justification of justice (Nussbaum); the fourth part highlights some problems with Nussbaum’s conception of justice compared to Rawls’. The fifth and final part discusses how the critical points of the first four parts relate to European studies discussions on legitimacy in general and to RECON’s normative framework in particular. The merits of Nussbaum’s approach from a gender perspective are given particular attention.
    Keywords: democracy; gender policy; legitimacy
    Date: 2010–12–15
  13. By: Sorina- Andreea PUSCASU (Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest)
    Abstract: Considering that entrepreneurship is closely related to the environmental evolution and dynamism in which it take place, and depending of all its factors: economical, social, cultural, etc., this study tries to outline an overview of what the social and cultural environment, the entrepreneurial activity and the connection between these two mean. The analysis of social and cultural environment on the entrepreneurial activity highlights the importance of social and cultural factors in the entrepreneurial activity because its evolution depends from country to country, depending on the culture, values, norms and importance the respective country give to entrepreneurship.
    Keywords: impact, environment, entrepreneurial activity
    JEL: L26
    Date: 2010–08

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