nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2013‒05‒22
thirteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Universita' la Sapienza

  1. Relational Capability: A Multidimensional Approach. By Gaël Giraud; Cécile Renouard; Hélène L'Huillier; Raphaële de la Martinière; Camille Sutter
  2. What niche did human cooperativeness evolve in? By Hannes Rusch
  3. Norms Make Preferences Social By Erik O. Kimbrough; Alexander Vostroknutov
  4. What Determines Trust? Human Capital vs. Social Institutions : Evidence from Manila and Moscow By John V.C. Nye; Grigory Androuschak; Desirée Desierto; Garett Jones; Maria Yudkevich
  5. Gender Differences in Life Satisfaction and Social Participation By Stephan Humpert
  6. Punishment Mechanisms and their Effect on Cooperation - A Simulation Study By M. D. Farjam; M. Faillo; W.F.G. Haselager; I.G. Sprinkhuizen-Kuyper
  7. Battle of the (Same) Sexes: How We Take Advantage of Presumed Trust from Same-Gender Others and Rationalize to the Contrary By Van Sant, Alex B.; Kray, Laura J.
  8. Sustaining Group Reputation. By Erik O. Kimbrough; Jared Rubin
  9. Does Bilateral Trust Affect International Movement of Goods and Labor? By Spring, Eva; Grossmann, Volker
  10. Philanthropy in a Changing World: An Evolving Attitude to Giving? By Vladimir Hyanek; Marie Hladka
  11. Differentiated Knowledge Bases and the Nature of Innovation Networks By Martin , Roman
  12. Making sense of “weakness” of post-communist civil society: Individual vs. organized engagement in civil advocacy in the Czech Republic By Jirí Navrátil
  13. Jobs, wellbeing, and social cohesion : evidence from value and perception surveys By Wietzke, Frank-Borge; McLeod, Catriona

  1. By: Gaël Giraud (Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne - Paris School of Economics); Cécile Renouard (ESSEC Business School, Companies and Development (CODEV)); Hélène L'Huillier (ESSEC Business School, Companies and Development (CODEV)); Raphaële de la Martinière (ESSEC Business School); Camille Sutter (ENSAE ParisTech)
    Abstract: This paper explores some of the dimensions related to poverty and exclusion, by defining a Relational Capability Index (RCI) which focuses on the quality of relationships among people and on their level of relational empowerment. This index is rooted in a relational anthropology; it insists on the quality of the social fabric and of interpersonal relations as a key aspect of human development. As a multidimensional index, the RCI includes integration into networks, private relations and civic commitments. We provide an axiomatization of a family of multidimensional indexes. This axiomatic viewpoint fills the gap between theories of justice and poverty measurements. By means of illustration, we apply three different versions of the RCI, which are elements of this family, to the measurement of the impact of oil companies on local communities in the Niger Delta (Nigeria) and to national surveys (Afrobarometer).
    Keywords: Multidimensional poverty, geometric mean, maximin solution, utilitarian solution, coherence, Nigeria, oil company
    JEL: I3 I32 D31 D63 O1
    Date: 2012–12
  2. By: Hannes Rusch
    Abstract: The Prisoner’s Dilemma (PD) is widely used to model social interaction between un- related individuals in the study of the evolution of cooperative behaviour in humans and other species. Many effective mechanisms and promotive scenarios have been studied which allow for small founding groups of cooperative individuals to prevail even when all social interaction is characterised as a PD. Here, a brief critical discusion of the role of the PD as the most prominent tool in cooperation research is presented, followed by two new objections to such an exclusive focus on PD-based models of social interaction. It is highlighted that only 2 of the 726 combinatorially possible strategically unique ordinal 2x2 games have the detrimental characteristics of a PD and that the frequency of PD-type games in a space of games with random payoffs does not exceed about 3.5%. Although these purely mathematical considerations do not compellingly imply that the relevance of PDs is overestimated, it is proposed that, in the absence of convergent empirical information about the ancestral human social niche, this finding can be interpreted in favour of a so far rather neglected answer to the question of how the founding groups of human cooperation themselves came to cooperate: Behavioural and/or psychological mechanisms which evolved for other, possibly more frequent, social interaction situations might have been applied to PD- type dilemmas only later. Human cooperative behaviour might thus partly have begun as a cooptation.
    Keywords: cooperation, prisoner’s dilemma, cooptation, social niche, human evolution
    JEL: C73 D74 D79
    Date: 2013
  3. By: Erik O. Kimbrough (Simon Fraser Unviersity); Alexander Vostroknutov (SMaastricht University)
    Abstract: We develop a unifying explanation for prosocial behavior. We argue that people care not about others’ payoffs per se, but whether their own behavior accords with social norms. Individuals who are sensitive to norms will adhere to them so long as they observe others doing the same. A model formalizing this generates both prosociality (without relying on explicit distributional preferences) and well-known context effects (for which distributional preferences cannot account). A simple experiment allows us to measure individual-level normsensitivity and to show that norm-sensitivity explains heterogeneity in prosociality in public goods, dictator, ultimatum, and trust games.
    Keywords: experimental economics, norms, social preferences, reciprocity
    JEL: C91 C92 D03
    Date: 2013–05
  4. By: John V.C. Nye (Department of Economics, George Mason University and Laboratory for Institutional Analysis of Economic Reforms, Higher School of Economics, Moscow); Grigory Androuschak (Laboratory for Institutional Analysis of Economic Reforms, Higher School of Economics, Moscow); Desirée Desierto (School of Economics, University of the Philippines Diliman); Garett Jones (Department of Economics, George Mason University); Maria Yudkevich (Laboratory for Institutional Analysis of Economic Reforms, Higher School of Economics, Moscow)
    Abstract: It is now well established that highly developed countries tend to score well on measures of social capital and have higher levels of generalized trust. In turn, the willingness to trust has been shown to be correlated with various social and environmental factors (e.g. institutions, culture) on one hand, and accumulated human capital on the other. To what extent is an individual’s trust driven by contemporaneous institutions and environmental conditions and to what extent is it determined by the individual’s human capital? We collect data from students in Moscow and Manila and use the variation in their height and gender to instrument for measures of their human capital to identify the causal effect of the latter on trust. We find that human capital positively affects the propensity to trust, and its contribution appears larger than the combined effect of other omitted variables including, plausibly, social and environmental factors.
    Date: 2012–11
  5. By: Stephan Humpert (Institute of Economics, Leuphana University Lueneburg, Germany)
    Abstract: This paper deals with the effects of social participation activities on life satisfaction. Using the German General Social Survey (ALLBUS) for 2010, I present gender specific differences for several social activities, such as club memberships of political, welfare, health or more leisure time orientated groups. These activities have different impacts on male or female satisfaction. While sports and civic engagements improve only female life satisfaction, men are more affected by charity organizations or leisure time activities, such as hobbies. It is an interesting result that political activities and trade unions have no, or even negative effects on life satisfaction.
    Keywords: Subjective Well-Being, Social Participation, German General Social Survey (ALLBUS)
    JEL: D60 I31 O52 Z13
    Date: 2013–05
  6. By: M. D. Farjam; M. Faillo; W.F.G. Haselager; I.G. Sprinkhuizen-Kuyper
    Abstract: In social dilemmas punishment costs resources, not just from the one who is punished but often also from the punisher and society. Reciprocity on the other side is known to lead to cooperation without the costs of punishment. The question at hand is whether punishment besides its costs brings advantages and how its negative side-effects can be reduced to a minimum in an environment populated by reciprocal agents. Various punishment mechanisms have been studied in the economic literature such as unrestricted punishment, legitimate punishment, cooperative punishment, and the hired gun mechanism. All these mechanisms are implemented in a simulation where agents can share resources and may decide to punish other agents when they do not share. Through evolutionary learning agents adapt their sharing/punishing policy. Despite the costs of punishment, legitimate punishment compared to no-punishment increased performance when the availability of resources was low. When the availability was high, performance was better in no-punishment conditions with indirect reciprocity. Furthermore the hired gun mechanism worked only as good as other punishment mechanisms when the availability of resources was high. Legitimate punishment leads to a higher performance than unrestricted punishment. Summarized, this paper shows that a well-chosen punishment mechanism can play a facilitating role for cooperation even if the cooperating system already adopted reciprocity.
    Keywords: Public Goods Games, Punishment, Cooperation, Reciprocity, Evolution of Cooperation
    Date: 2013
  7. By: Van Sant, Alex B.; Kray, Laura J.
    Abstract: In the current research, we consider how gender composition may impact the likelihood of deception in contexts with asymmetric information where one party has the opportunity to strategically deceive another party for the opportunity to gain economically. We predict that the combined processes of social categorization and social projection should make people more likely to presume trust from same-gender others than different-gender others. Because anonymous interactions promote the tendency to construe situations instrumentally, we hypothesize that people will take advantage of presumed trust from same-gender others by being more likely to deceive them than different-gender others under conditions of anonymity. Finally,we argue that when rationalizing their deceptive behavior, liars should be more likely to attribute mistrust to same-gender others than different-gender others. We turn to the Cheap Talk Game paradigm (Gneezy, 2005) for our research setting and find support for our hypotheses across three different vignettes and a laboratory study using a behavioral measure of deception.
    Keywords: Human Resources Management and Services, Business Administration, Management and Operations, trust, gender, social projection, deception, ethical decision making
    Date: 2013–05–13
  8. By: Erik O. Kimbrough (Simon Fraser University); Jared Rubin (Chapman University)
    Abstract: When individuals trade with strangers, there is a temptation to renege on contracts. In the absence of repeated interaction or exogenous enforcement mechanisms, this problem can impede valuable exchange. Historically, individuals have solved this problem by forming institutions that sustain trade using group, rather than individual, reputation. Groups can employ two mechanisms to uphold reputation that are generally unavailable to isolated individuals: information sharing and in-group punishment. In this paper, we design a laboratory experiment to distinguish the roles of these two mechanisms in sustaining group reputation and increasing gains from trade. We find that information sharing encourages path dependence via group reputation; good (bad) behavior by individuals results in greater (fewer) gains from exchange for the group in the future. However, the mere threat of in-group punishment is enough to discourage bad behavior, even if punishment is rarely employed. When combined, information sharing and in-group punishment work as complements; the presence of in-group punishment encourages cooperation early on, and information sharing reinforces this behavior over time.
    Keywords: Experimental Economics, Group Reputation, Information, Group Punishment, Gains from Trade, Trust Game, Juries
    JEL: C9 D02 D7 Q2
    Date: 2013
  9. By: Spring, Eva; Grossmann, Volker
    Abstract: Trust in the citizens of a potential partner country may affect the decision to trade with or to migrate to a foreign country. This paper employs panel data to examine the causal impact of such bilateral trust on international trade and migration patterns. We apply instrumental variables (IV) approaches that capture the exogenous variance of bilateral trust separately with eight indicators of genetic ("somatic") distance between country-pairs. These indicators work equally well at the first stage. However, second-stage results very much depend on the exact measure employed as instrument. Overall, we find little evidence that bilateral trust affects international movements of goods and labor. More generally, we highlight the potential fragility of IV estimations even when the instruments seem plausible on theoretical grounds and when standard statistical tests confirm their validity.
    Keywords: Bilateral trust; International migration; International trade; Instrumental variables; Somatic distance
    JEL: F10 F22 Z10
    Date: 2013–05–02
  10. By: Vladimir Hyanek (Department of Public Economics, Masaryk University); Marie Hladka
    Abstract: Even though philanthropy tends to be considered a sociological theme rather than an economic one, it poses a number of questions that challenge economists as well. We chose to address the following: How can economists contribute to the theories related to philanthropy? Can we consider voluntary giving a demonstration of generosity rather than a market-based solution? We examine some terms that are used in public economics theory and use them to explore the issues of philanthropy. The terms we reviewed are: the Samaritan’s Dilemma, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and the Free-Rider Problem, which we consider to be interesting and inspiring (Stone 2008). We answer the second question by means of sociological theory. The economists who investigate philanthropy are repeatedly faced with the obvious fact that it does not involve any buying and/or selling; it is not a marketplace operation. We have to find and identify the social values of donors and volunteers rather than their economic values, because economists are not fully able to explain empathy, altruism, and helpful behaviour using traditional economic principles (Rutherford 2008). The theoretical frame should be supported by relevant empirical data. There is, however, a lack of both theoretical and empirical work in this area in the Czech Republic. Before starting a large-scale survey, we decided to conduct smaller pre-research probes into people’s attitudes towards altruism, philanthropy, and giving. Even though our sample was not fully representative, the responses that we collected generated interesting findings about people’s views and attitudes. The first wave of data was collected between February and April 2009; the second wave between February and April 2010.
    Keywords: philanthropy, charity, altruism, public economics, motivation, not-for-profit
    JEL: L31 L38
    Date: 2012–12
  11. By: Martin , Roman (CIRCLE, Lund University)
    Abstract: It is argued in this paper that the nature of innovation networks can vary substantially with regard to the type of knowledge that is critical for innovation. Subject to the knowledge base of an industry, networks between companies can differ in various aspects, such as their geographical configuration, their structure, the type of actors holding a strategic position and the type of relations between actors. The paper comprises a conceptual discussion on social capital theory and networks, followed by a theoretically informed discussion on differentiated knowledge bases and innovation networks, which is subsequently illustrated with empirical material. The empirical analysis is based on social network analysis in association with exclusive data about patterns of cooperation and knowledge exchange in a number of regional industries located in different parts of Europe. The findings suggest that networks in analytical industries are not much constrained by geographical distance; knowledge is exchanged in a highly selective manner between research units and scientists in globally configured epistemic communities. Synthetic industries source knowledge within nationally or regionally configured networks between suppliers and customers, and within communities of practice. Symbolic industries rely on knowledge that is culturally defined and highly context specific, resulting in localised networks that are temporary and flexible in nature.
    Keywords: differentiated knowledge bases; regional innovation systems; social capital; social network analysis; knowledge networks
    JEL: B52 O25 P51 R11 R12 R58
    Date: 2013–05–03
  12. By: Jirí Navrátil (Department of Public Economics, Masaryk University)
    Abstract: Starting point of this paper is alleged weakness of civil society in Central-Eastern European countries as often demonstrated by sparse organizational infrastructure, low membership in civil society organizations (CSOs), or insufficient community activism and privatism of citizens in these countries. This paper focuses on the Czech Republic and claims, first, that there is a considerable discrepancy in the citizens´ engagement in organized civil society activities depending on whether these are perceived as political (advocacy) or not, and second, that the gap between organized and individual engagement within the field of civil advocacy does not necessarily stem (only) from the “legacy of communism” but (also) from the dissidents´ conception of “non-political” civil society. The paper deals with the empirical analysis of EVS data, original survey data (N=800), and focus group interviews. It aims at understanding what the motives of citizens and advocacy CSOs for keeping their distance are. Furthermore, the paper attempts to sketch more general causes of this disconnectedness through illustrating the roots of the conflict between the categories of collective/individual and political/ethical in the Czech history of thinking about civil society.
    Keywords: Civil society, democracy, civil participation, non-governmental organizations, Czech Republic.
    JEL: D72 L31
    Date: 2012–12
  13. By: Wietzke, Frank-Borge; McLeod, Catriona
    Abstract: Recent events, including the Arab Revolutions and protest movement of unemployed youths in OECD countries, have contributed to the popular sentiment that access to good jobs is an important driver of social cohesion. While economic dimensions of labor market outcomes are relatively well documented, evidence on the link between social cohesion and employment conditions is still surprisingly scarce. This paper, a background report for the WDR 2013 on Jobs, presents descriptive evidence that illustrates possible linkages between labor market outcomes and social cohesion. The findings suggest that, once one passes the threshold from low to lower middle income countries, formal employment emerges as a determinant of a range of outcomes relating to social cohesion, such as membership in social associations or levels of political activism. There are also indications of an increasing association between work and life satisfaction across higher and lower middle income countries. The paper concludes with a discussion of the study's implications for emerging economies whose labor market and social institutions are still in transition.
    Keywords: Labor Policies,Labor Markets,Markets and Market Access,Inequality,Economic Theory&Research
    Date: 2013–05–01

This nep-soc issue is ©2013 by Fabio Sabatini. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.