nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2011‒05‒07
nine papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini

  1. Formation and Persistence of Oppositional Identities By Bisin, Alberto; Patacchini, Eleonora; Verdier, Thierry; Zenou, Yves
  2. Learning to trust strangers: an evolutionary perspective By Pierre Courtois; Tarik Tazdaït
  3. How to shake the Invisible Hand (when Robinson meets Friday) By Antoine Billot
  4. A Human Relations Paradox By Hans Gersbach; Hans Haller
  5. Carrots without Bite: On the Ineffectiveness of 'Rewards' in sustaining Cooperation in Social Dilemmas By Stoop, Jan; van Soest, Daan; Vyrastekova, Jana
  6. Inequality and growth in the very long run: inferring inequality from data on social groups By Modalsli, Jørgen
  7. Coordination structures By Rosa-García, Alfonso; Kiss, Hubert Janos
  8. Cutting Bread or Cutting Throats? – Findings from a New Database on Religion, Violence and Peace in Sub-Saharan Africa By Matthias Basedau; Georg Strüver; Johannes Vüllers
  9. Are nurses more altruistic than real estate brokers? By Jacobsen, Karin; H. Eika, Kari; Helland, Leif; Thori Lind, Jo; Nyborg, Karine

  1. By: Bisin, Alberto (New York University); Patacchini, Eleonora (La Sapienza University of Rome, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) and CEPR.); Verdier, Thierry (Paris School of Economics (PSE) and CEPR); Zenou, Yves (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University)
    Abstract: We develop a dynamic model of identity formation that explains why ethnic minorities may choose to adopt oppositional identities (i.e. some individuals may reject or not the dominant culture) and why this behavior may persist over time. We first show that the prevalence of an oppositional culture in the minority group cannot always be sustained in equilibrium. Indeed, because the size of the majority group is larger, there is an “imposed” process of exposition to role models from the majority group that favors the diffusion of mainstream values in the minority community. In spite of this, an oppositional culture in the minority group can nevertheless be sustained in steady-state if there is enough cultural segmentation in terms of role models, or if the size of the minority group is large enough, or if the degree of oppositional identity it implies is high enough. We also demonstrate that the higher the level of harassment and the number of racist individuals in the society, the more likely an oppositional minority culture will emerge. We finally show that ethnic identity and socialization effort can be more intense in mixed rather than segregated neighborhoods.
    Keywords: Ethnicity; role models; peer effects; cultural transmission; racism
    JEL: A14 J15
    Date: 2011–04–26
  2. By: Pierre Courtois; Tarik Tazdaït
    Abstract: What if living in a relatively trustworthy society was sufficient to blindly trust strangers? In this paper we interpret generalized trust as a learning process and analyse the trust game paradox in light of the replicator dynamics. Given that trust inevitably implies doubts about others, we assume incomplete information and study the dynamics of trust in buyer-supplier purchase transactions. Considering a world made of “good” and “bad” suppliers, we show that the trust game admits a unique evolutionarily stable strategy: buyers may trust strangers if, on the whole, it is not too risky to do so. Examining the situation where some players may play, either as trustor or as trustee, we show that this result is robust.
    Date: 2011–02
  3. By: Antoine Billot (Université Paris-Dauphine - Université Paris-Dauphine, EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS : UMR8545 - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - Ecole des Ponts ParisTech - Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris - ENS Paris)
    Abstract: We propose to define the invisible hand by (i) modelling the mechanism itself (not to just assume its existence) and (ii) making explicit the limit conditions for its working. For that purpose, we simply assimilate the working of the invisible hand mechanism to the existence of a social preference such that individual and social optimalities are consistent. In introducing the possibility of interaction among individuals, we then suggest that the standard Robinson case or social atomicity is just a degenerate feature of a more general requirement that we call the Global Network Agreement. Our main result is that the invisible hand mechanism does keep on working when there is an interaction between Robinson and Friday if the former (resp. the latter) is sensitive to the latter (resp. the former) in such a way that they exhibit some agreement in preferences. Hence, the Robinson case naturally satisfies this property since nor Robinson neither Friday can disagree with himself. But more cooperative situations are also allowed in order to extent the invisible hand mechanism to cases with interactions.
    Keywords: preferences ; social interaction ; invisible hand
    Date: 2011–04–22
  4. By: Hans Gersbach (ETH Zurich, Switzerland); Hans Haller (Virginia Polytechnic Institute)
    Abstract: We present a variant of a general equilibrium model with group formation to study how changes of non-consumptive benefits from group formation impact on the well-being of group members. We identify a human relations paradox: Positive externalities increase, but none of the group members gains in equilibrium. Moreover, a member who experiences an increase of positive emotional benefits in a group may become worse off in equilibrium.
    Keywords: Group formation, competitive markets, human relation, exit
    JEL: D41 D50 D60
    Date: 2011–04
  5. By: Stoop, Jan; van Soest, Daan; Vyrastekova, Jana
    Abstract: Peer-to-peer sanctions increase cooperation in multi-person social dilemmas (Fehr & Gachter (2000)), but not when subjects have the option to retaliate (Nikiforakis (2008)). One-shot peer-to-peer rewards have been found to enhance efficiency too (Vyrastekova & van Soest (2008), Rand et al. (2009a)), but it is an open question whether the positive impact on cooperation is weakened or strengthened when we allow for counterrewarding. We examine the impact of possible reciprocity in rewarding on cooperation in a non-linear public bad game, and find that efficiency in the social dilemma is equally low as absent any reward options. We hypothesize that subjects are unwilling to sever mutually profitable bilateral exchanges of reward tokens to induce cooperation in the social dilemma, and identify the underlying mechanism by comparing behavior across three matching protocols.
    Keywords: Social dilemmas; economic experiments; rewards.
    JEL: C92 D74 C72
    Date: 2011–03–11
  6. By: Modalsli, Jørgen (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)
    Abstract: Income distribution data from before the Industrial Revolution usually comes in the shape of social tables: inventories of a range of social groups and their mean incomes. These are frequently reported without adjusting for within-group income dispersion, leading to a systematic downward bias in the reporting of pre industrial inequality. This paper suggests a correction method, and applies it to an existing collection of twenty-five social tables, from Rome in AD 1 to India in 1947. The corrections, using a variety of assumptions on within-group dispersion, lead to substantial increases in the Gini coefficients. Combining the inequality levels with data on GDP, a robust positive relationship between income inequality and economic growth is confirmed. This supports earlier proposals, based on fewer data points, of a "super Kuznets curve" of increasing inequality over the entire pre-industrial period.
    Keywords: Pre-industrial inequality; social tables; Kuznets curve; history
    JEL: C65 D31 N30 O11
    Date: 2011–04–28
  7. By: Rosa-García, Alfonso; Kiss, Hubert Janos
    Abstract: We study a coordination problem where agents act sequentially. Agents are embedded in an observation network that allows them to observe the actions of their neighbors. We find that coordination failures do not occur if there exists a sufficiently large clique. Its existence is necessary and sufficient when agents are homogenous and sufficient when agents differ and their types are private. Other structures guarantee coordination when agents decide in some particular sequences or for particular payoffs. The coordination problem embodied in our game is applied to the problems of revolts and bank runs.
    Keywords: social networks; coordination failures; multiple equilibria; revolts; bank runs
    JEL: D82 D85 C72
    Date: 2011–04–23
  8. By: Matthias Basedau; Georg Strüver; Johannes Vüllers
    Abstract: Despite the religious diversity in sub-Saharan Africa and the religious overtones in a number of African conflicts, social science research has inadequately addressed the question of how and to what extent religion matters for conflict in Africa. This paper presents an innovative data inventory on religion and violent conflict in all sub-Saharan countries for the period 1990–2008 that seeks to contribute to filling the gap. The data underscore that religion has to be accounted for in conflict in Africa. Moreover, results show the multidimensionality (e.g. armed conflicts with religious incompatibilities, several forms of non-state religious violence) and ambivalence (inter-religious networks, religious peace initiatives) of religion vis-à-vis violence. In 22 of the 48 sub-Saharan countries, religion plays a substantial role in violence, and six countries in particular—Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan and Uganda— are heavily affected by different religious aspects of violence.
    Keywords: religion, sub-Saharan Africa, violence, peace, conflict
    Date: 2011–02
  9. By: Jacobsen, Karin (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo); H. Eika, Kari (The Royal Ministry of Health and Care Services); Helland, Leif (Department of Economics, BI Norwegian School of Management); Thori Lind, Jo (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo); Nyborg, Karine (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)
    Abstract: We report results from a dictator game experiment with nurse students and real estate broker students as dictators, and Amnesty International as the recipient. Although brokers contributed substantial amounts, nurses contributed significantly more, on average 76 percent of their endowment. In a second part, subjects chose between a certain repetition of the experiment and a 50-50 chance of costly exit. About one third of the brokers and half of the nurses chose the exit option. While generosity was indeed higher among nurses, even when taking exits into account, the difference cannot readily be attributed to different degrees of altruism.
    Keywords: Dictator game; exit option; generosity; occupational differences
    JEL: D10 D64
    Date: 2011–04–28

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