nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2011‒09‒16
eleven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini

  1. Social Capital and Online Games By Christoph Safferling
  2. Vote-Buying and Reciprocity By Frederico Finan; Laura A. Schechter
  3. Measuring social capital and innovation in poor agricultural communities: The case of Cháparra, Peru By Hartmann, Dominik; Arata, Atilio
  4. The Value of social networks in rural Paraguay By Ligon, Ethan A.; Schechter, Laura
  5. Trust, Reciprocity and Rules By Thomas A. Rietz; Eric Schniter; Roman M. Sheremeta; Timothy W. Shields
  6. Is there room for shared cars in Italy? Considerations from some recent experiences By Laurino, Antonio; Grimaldi, Raffaele
  7. Do contacts matter in the process of getting a job in Cameroon? By Doko Tchatoka; Urbain Thierry Yogo
  8. Changing identity: Retiring from unemployment By Hetschko, Clemens; Knabe, Andreas; Schöb, Ronnie
  9. Endogenous categorization and group inequality By Alexandre, Michel
  10. Envy and Hope: Relevant Others' Consumption and Subjective Well-being in Urban India By Xavier Fontaine; Katsunori Yamada
  11. The changing effect of legal origin on death tolls in natural disasters from 1960 to 2008. By Yamamura, Eiji

  1. By: Christoph Safferling (Institut für Betriebswirtschaftslehre, Universität Wien, Austria)
    Abstract: We use data from an online game economy and econometric matching methods to test whether social capital of players has an impact on game success. Membership in a 'clan', a voluntary organization of players, positively impacts game success. Hence, social capital has a positive effect on outcomes. Yet, top performers do not gain from access to this social capital.
    JEL: A13 C99 D10 D12
    Date: 2011–09–02
  2. By: Frederico Finan; Laura A. Schechter
    Abstract: While vote-buying is common, little is known about how politicians determine who to target. We argue that vote-buying can be sustained by an internalized norm of reciprocity. Receiving money engenders feelings of obligation. Combining survey data on vote-buying with an experiment-based measure of reciprocity, we show that politicians target reciprocal individuals. Overall, our findings highlight the importance of social preferences in determining political behavior.
    JEL: H23 H41 O1
    Date: 2011–09
  3. By: Hartmann, Dominik; Arata, Atilio
    Abstract: In the last decades substantive advance has been made in the measurement and understanding of frontier innovation in highly industrialized settings. However, little research focused on the process of learning and the introduction of novelties in smallholder farming of poor agricultural communities. Considering that 1.5 billion people in developing countries live in such smallholder households this is an essential shortcoming. In addressing three crucial questions about the measurement and promotion of endogenous local development this paper contributes to close this research gap. The three questions are: a) how can we measure social capital and innovation in poor agricultural communities, b) what is the impact of external agents on local structures and c) what are the relations between the social capital and the innovative performance of the farmer. In a first step a comprehensive questionnaire with 89 questions on diverse dimensions of social capital and innovation has been elaborated and applied to the agricultural valley of Cháparra in the South of Peru. The results allow for an indepth analysis of the capabilities, network position and innovative behavior of the farmers. In a second step, we apply social network analysis techniques to analyze the role and position of the relevant actors in the local as well as in the external technical information networks with a special focus on the influence of an external NGO. The analysis reveals a deep structural impact of the NGO and significant correlations between the network position of the farmers and their innovative performance. Three crucial issues for research on smallholder innovation are identified. First, diverse dimensions of social capital and innovation have to be differentiated when studying endogenous development. Second, it has to be assessed to which degree the modification of the existing social structures by external agents can be harmful or beneficial. Third, social network analysis can help us to gain a better understanding of the complex relations between social capital and innovation and how these can contribute to foster sustainable development projects. --
    Keywords: social capital,innovation,smallholders,Cháparra,Peru,network analysis
    Date: 2011
  4. By: Ligon, Ethan A.; Schechter, Laura
    Abstract: We conduct field experiments in rural Paraguay to measure the value of reciprocity within social networks in a set of fifteen villages. These experiments involve conducting dictator- type games; different treatments involve manipulating the information and choice that individuals have in the game. These different treatments allow us to measure and distinguish between different motives for giving in these games. The different motives we're able to measure include a general benevolence, directed altruism, fear of sanctions, and reciprocity within the social network. We're further able to draw inferences from play in the games regarding the sorts of impediments to trade which must restrict villagers' ability to share in states of the world when no researchers are present running experiments and measuring outcomes.
    Keywords: Agricultural and Resource Economics
    Date: 2011–02–01
  5. By: Thomas A. Rietz (Henry B. Tippie College of Business, University of Iowa); Eric Schniter (Economic Science Institute, Chapman University); Roman M. Sheremeta (Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University); Timothy W. Shields (Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University)
    Abstract: In the absence of enforceable contracts, many economic and personal interactions rely on trust and reciprocity. Research shows that although this reliance often works well, sometimes it breaks down. Simple rules mandating minimum standards on reciprocation prevent the most egregious trust violations, but may also undermine behavior that would have otherwise produced higher overall economic welfare. We test the efficacy of exogenously imposed minimum return rules using experimental trust games. We find that rules fail to increase trust and trustworthiness. Thus low minimum standards significantly decrease economic welfare. Although sufficiently restrictive rules restore welfare, trust and trustworthy behavior never returns.
    Keywords: trust games, experiments, reputation, information, reciprocity
    JEL: C72 C91 D72
    Date: 2011
  6. By: Laurino, Antonio; Grimaldi, Raffaele
    Abstract: Car sharing is increasing its role worldwide as an alternative transport mode, that could contribute to a more sustainable urban mobility by reducing congestion and pollution. The paper focuses on the understanding of which are the main characteristics of this service starting from the literature on this topic both in terms of user profile and impact of the service; in the second part of the paper, the Italian context will be presented starting from the analysis of four Italian experiences with a particular focus on Milan’s car sharing. Summarizing the conclusion, it emerges that to date, the overall impact on transport is still quite low, in part due to a scarce integration and coordination with other transport modes and in part because car is still perceived primarily as a status symbol and a “good” rather than as a “service”. Therefore, car sharing can perform as a significant complementary and sustainable solution to mobility needs only in a context of cultural change and inside a transport policy aimed at changing transport behavior.
    Keywords: car sharing; sustainable mobility; transport policy; urban mobility; peer to peer car sharing;
    JEL: Q50 R40
    Date: 2011–09–01
  7. By: Doko Tchatoka; Urbain Thierry Yogo (School of Economics and Finance, University of Tasmania)
    Abstract: We question whether the use of social networks to exit unemployment matters in Cameroon. We develop a Weibull-type duration model which allows us to address this issue in a convenient way. Our investigations indicate that there is a strong evidence of endogeneity and sample selection biases. We then propose a three-step procedure to deal with both problems. Our results show that the use of social networks to exit unemployment is effective. Furthermore, we find that the hazard monotonically increases with time. Hence, unemployment exhibits a positive duration dependence. Moreover, we provide an analysis of factors that determine labor market participation and the use of social networks. We find that the density of the west native population in the center of Cameroon and religion are the only factors that determine the use of social networks. In contrast, characteristics such as age, sex, education, association’s membership, determine labor market participation.
    Keywords: RePEc
    Date: 2011–02
  8. By: Hetschko, Clemens; Knabe, Andreas; Schöb, Ronnie
    Abstract: Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel from 1984-2009, we follow persons from their working life into their retirement years and find that, on average, employed people maintain their life satisfaction upon retirement, while long-term unemployed people report a substantial increase in their life satisfaction when they retire. These results are robust to controlling for changes in other life circumstances and suggest that retiring is associated with a switch in the relevant social norms that causes an increase in identity utility for the formerly unemployed. This is supportive of the idea that, by including identity in the utility function, results from the empirical life satisfaction literature can be reconciled with the economic theory of individual utility. --
    Keywords: life satisfaction,retirement,unemployment,identity,social norm
    JEL: I31 J26
    Date: 2011
  9. By: Alexandre, Michel
    Abstract: The objective of this paper is to integrate economic and sociological elements in a model of human capital accumulation by phenotypically distinct individuals. Both kinds of elements are influenced by the degree of categorization endogeneity (CE), meant as the influence of endogenous elements (e.g., behavioral traits) in group categorization. If CE is high, members of dominated groups can pass as members of dominant groups by adopting the behavioral norm associated with that group. CE facilitates group equality by decreasing the ability to discriminate between members of dominant and dominated groups, but it weakens intra-group neighborhood effects. It is argued that, under sufficiently low levels of discrimination, CE widens the range of values of the neighborhood effects parameter for which group inequality is stable.
    Keywords: Human capital; neighborhood effects; categorization endogeneity
    JEL: O15 Z13 C62
    Date: 2011–09–08
  10. By: Xavier Fontaine (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 - INRA); Katsunori Yamada (ISER - Institute of Social and Economic Research - Osaka University)
    Abstract: This paper exploits a unique micro-level survey to investigate the relationship between subjective well-being and reference consumption in urban Indian. Using accurate computations of individuals' reference consumption, we find that other's consumption has a positive impact on subjective well-being. This result validates Hirschman's view that information dominates envy in rapidly developing areas. Whereas envy seems to undermine the well-being impact of growth in economically-established countries, growth appears to have an important role in urban Indian. Our finding is robust to the way we define the reference level of consumption.
    Keywords: Subjective Well-being; India; Relative utility; Tunnel effects
    Date: 2011–08–25
  11. By: Yamamura, Eiji
    Abstract: Persistent institutions, which are captured by legal origin, are considered to influence the occurrence and intensity of economic crises. However, little is known about how changes in legal origin affect processes of economic development. Using non-European country data, this paper investigates the effect of legal origin on natural disaster death tolls from 1960 to 2008, and on the two periods 1960–1989 and 1990–2008. The key findings are that natural disaster death tolls are higher in French legal origin countries than in other countries in 1990–2008, but not in 1960–1989. This implies that the role of legal origin, in reducing the level of damage in a disaster, changes according to technological progress.
    Keywords: Deaths; Natural Disaster; Legal origin; Institution
    JEL: O11 D81 Q54
    Date: 2011–08–25

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