nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2014‒02‒02
fifteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
La Sapienza University of Rome

  1. The value of real voluntary associations By Giacomo Degli Antoni; Gianluca Grimalda
  2. A cross-country analysis of the relationship between income inequality and social capital By Heijke J.A.M.; Ioakimidis M.
  3. How Durable are Social Norms? Immigrant Trust and Generosity in 132 Countries By John F. Helliwell; Shun Wang; Jinwen Xu
  4. Does social distrust always lead to a stronger support for government intervention? By Pitlik, Hans; Kouba, Ludek
  5. Does Bilateral Trust Affect International Movement of Goods and Labor? By Spring, Eva; Grossmann, Volker
  6. Corruption and social values: do postmaterialists justify bribery? By Maria Kravtsova; Aleksey Oshchepkov; Christian Welzel
  7. Who cares for social image? Interactions between intrinsic motivation and social image concerns By Friedrichsen, Jana; Engelmann, Dirk
  8. Voting to Tell Others By Stefano DellaVigna; John A. List; Ulrike Malmendier; Gautam Rao
  9. Constitutions and Social Networks By Ana Mauleon; Nils Roehl; Vincent Vannetelbosch
  10. Parental investment and the intergenerational transmission of economic preferences By Zumbühl M.A.; Pfann G.A.; Pfann G.A.; Dohmen T.J.
  11. Playing with the Social Net: Solidarity Differences in Resettled and Non-Resettled Communities in Cambodia By Gobien, Simone; Vollan, Björn
  12. Social norms or low-cost heuristics? An experimental investigation of imitative behavior By Cicognani, Simona; Mittone, Luigi
  13. De-composing diversity: In-group size and out-group entropy and their relationship to neighbourhood cohesion By Koopmans, Ruud; Schaeffer, Merlin
  14. Selfish Altruism, Fierce Cooperation and the Emergence of Cooperative Equilibria from Passing and Shooting By Askitas, Nikos
  15. A Dynamic Model of Belief-Dependent Conformity to Social Norms By Sontuoso, Alessandro

  1. By: Giacomo Degli Antoni (University of Parma, Department of Law; Econometica, Inter-University Center for Economic Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility, Italy); Gianluca Grimalda (University of Duisburg-Essen, Centre for Global Cooperation Research and Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Germany; LEE-Universitat Jaume I of Castellón, Spain)
    Abstract: The social capital literature attributes association members a key role in propagating inter-personal trust in the society. It has been posited that participating in associations instils pro-social attitudes in their members, and that the decline in associational membership is the main cause of the faltering rates of inter-personal trust in the US. However, the extent to which association members are indeed inclined to extend their presumed higher pro-social attitudes from within associations to the society at large is still an open question. The survey evidence on the issue is scant, and recent laboratory evidence with minimal groups assigns no value to groups as such. We investigate these issues in the first field experiment measuring trust and trustworthiness of members of real-life associations and of a demographically comparable sample of non-members. The sample was stratified with respect to age, gender, educational level. Members have played an anonymous Trust Game either with fellow members (ingroup treatment), or with people from the general population (outgroup treatment). Our main findings are: (a) Association members are significantly more trusting and trustworthy than non-members when interacting with people from the general population. (b) Association members generally trust and reward fellow members in the same way as they behave with people from the general population. Ingroup favouritism is limited to two associations out of ten with respect to trust, and to one case with respect to trustworthiness. (c) However, people who are members of only “Olsonian” associations do not trust others significantly more than people from the general population, while members of “Putnamesque” and social welfare associations trust significantly more. This confirms the conjecture that associations may have different macroeconomic impacts depending on the nature of their goals. (d) We find no evidence that growing individual involvement with associational life, measured by length of membership, hours spent volunteering, and number of associations joined, has any effect in increasing pro-social attitudes.
    Keywords: Trust; Trustworthiness; Social Capital; Ingroup bias; Voluntary associations; Field experiment
    JEL: A13 C91 C93 D03
    Date: 2013
  2. By: Heijke J.A.M.; Ioakimidis M. (ROA)
    Abstract: This study investigated whether earnings inequality is associated with social capital as measured by active membership in organizations and interpersonal trust. Pearson product-moment correlation analysis showed that greater earnings inequality was associated with lower values on both measures of social capital in 14 European countries. While causality in either direction cannot be inferred from this result, it does suggest the possibility that earnings inequality negatively affects social capital. To test this idea further, we also tentatively examined whether other societal indicators related to earnings inequality are associated with social capital. These alternative indicatorsthe countrys percentage of urban residents, percentage of residents with tertiary education, and government spending as a percentage of GDPdid not show stronger relationships with social capital than did earnings inequality. Further analysis of the data by excluding specific groups of countries indicated little association between earnings inequality and measures of social capital. These results suggested that country-specific economic or cultural values play a large role in how earnings inequality and social capital are related.
    Keywords: Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification;
    JEL: J31 Z13
    Date: 2013
  3. By: John F. Helliwell; Shun Wang; Jinwen Xu
    Abstract: This paper estimates the global prevalence of social trust and generosity among immigrants. We combine individual and national level data from immigrants and native-born respondents in more than 130 countries, using seven waves of the Gallup World Poll (2005-2012). The results show that the effect of source country social trust is about one-third as large as that from trust levels in the destination countries where the migrant now lives. Migrants from low-trust environments are especially affected by the low trust in their country of origin even after migration, while migrants from high-trust environments are less likely to import the high trust of their country of origin to their current country of residence. We also show that, holding constant the effects of imported trust, immigrants and the native-born have similar levels of social trust. We find similar, but smaller, footprint effects for generosity. To help confirm that the footprint effects for social norms represent more than just that it takes time to learn about new surroundings, we undertake similar tests for trust in national institutions, where we would not expect to see footprint effects. In contrast to our social trust and generosity results, and consistent with our expectations, we find no footprint effects for opinions about domestic institutions in the new country.
    JEL: J15 P51 Z13
    Date: 2014–01
  4. By: Pitlik, Hans (Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO)); Kouba, Ludek (Mendel University in Brno, The Czech Republic)
    Abstract: We address empirically trust as a determinant of support for government intervention. The central notion provided in the present paper is that the influence of generalized social trust on intervention attitudes is conditional on the perceived reliability, honesty, and incorruptibility of state actors and of major companies. Starting point is an idea by Aghion, Algan, Cahuc, and Shleifer (2010) that individuals who generally distrust others have a stronger taste for a regulation of economic activities, while people with high interpersonal trust are in favor of less strict regulations and state control. This line of argumentation neglects that (lack of) trust spills over to distrust in both governmental as well as in private institutions. People who tend to (dis-)trust other unknown people also tend to (dis-)trust state actors and private sector actors. Estimating the determinants of interventionist preferences with data from the World Values Survey/European Values Study for approximately 100,000 -115,000 individuals in 37 OECD- and EU-countries, we show that the impact of social trust on government intervention attitudes is conditional on individual confidence in state actors and in companies.
    Keywords: social trust; institutional trust; government regulation; preference formation
    JEL: D70 D78 H10
    Date: 2014–01–21
  5. 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 various 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. We conclude that there is little evidence that bilateral trust affects international movements of goods and labor. Moreover, 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. --
    JEL: F10 F22 Z10
    Date: 2013
  6. By: Maria Kravtsova (National Research University Higher School of Economics,); Aleksey Oshchepkov (National Research University Higher School of Economics,); Christian Welzel (Center for the Study of Democracy, Leuphana University)
    Abstract: Using World Values Survey data from dozens of countries around the world, this article analyzes the relationship between postmaterialist values and attitudes towards bribery in a multi-level framework. This is an inherently interesting and under-researched topic because the various propensities attributed to postmaterialism lead to conflicting expectations about how these values affect attitudes towards bribery. On one hand, the alleged tendency of postmaterialists towards impartiality should lead them to condemn bribery. On the other hand, condemning bribery is a social desirability issue and postmaterialists are known to be less susceptible to desirability pressures and more relaxed about norm deviations. From this point of view, postmaterialists might be more tolerant toward bribery. Reflecting these conflicting expectations, we obtain an ambivalent result, evident in an inverted U-shaped relationship: as we move from pure materialism to mixed positions, people tend to justify bribery more, but then moving from mixed positions to pure postmaterialism, people become again more dismissive of bribery. What is more, the demographic prevalence of postmaterialists in a country moderates these values’ effect on bribery: where postmaterialists are more prevalent, the disapproving effect on bribery outweighs the approving effect. This finding contributes to a better understanding of the pronounced negative correlation between corruption and postmaterialism at the country level and has some important implications.
    Keywords: corruption, bribery, social values, postmaterialism, impartiality, norm deviations.
    JEL: D73 A13 K42 Z10
    Date: 2014
  7. By: Friedrichsen, Jana; Engelmann, Dirk
    Abstract: We consider the interaction of intrinsic motivation and concerns for social approval in a laboratory experiment. We elicit a proxy for Fairtrade preferences before the experiment. In the experiment, we elicit willingness to pay for conventional and Fairtrade chocolate. Treatments vary whether this can be signalled to other participants. Subjects concerned with social approval should state a higher Fairtrade premium when signalling is possible. We find that this is the case, but interestingly only for participants who are not intrinsically motivated to buy Fairtrade. This has important implications both for crowding out of intrinsic motivation through incentives and for producer choices. --
    JEL: D03 C91 H41
    Date: 2013
  8. By: Stefano DellaVigna; John A. List; Ulrike Malmendier; Gautam Rao
    Abstract: Why do people vote? We argue that social image plays a significant role in explaining turnout: people vote because others will ask. The expectation of being asked motivates turnout if individuals derive pride from telling others that they voted, or feel shame from admitting that they did not vote, provided that lying is costly. We design a field experiment to estimate the effect of social image concerns on voting. In a door-to-door survey about election turnout, we experimentally vary (i) the informational content and use of a flyer pre-announcing the survey, (ii) the duration and payment for the survey, and (iii) the incentives to lie about past voting. Our estimates suggest significant social image concerns. For a plausible range of lying costs, we estimate the monetary value of voting `because others will ask' to be in the range of $5-$15 for the 2010 Congressional election. In a complementary get-out-the-vote experiment, we inform potential voters before the election that we will ask them later whether they voted. We find suggestive evidence that the treatment increases turnout.
    JEL: C93 P48
    Date: 2014–01
  9. By: Ana Mauleon (Saint-Louis University — Brussels); Nils Roehl (University of Paderborn); Vincent Vannetelbosch (CORE, University of Louvain)
    Abstract: The objective of the paper is to analyze the formation of social networks where individuals are allowed to engage in several groups at the same time. These group structures are interpreted here as social networks. Each group is supposed to have specific rules or constitutions governing which members may join or leave it. Given these constitutions, we consider a social network to be stable if no group is modified any more. We provide requirements on constitutions and players’ preferences under which stable social networks are induced for sure. Furthermore, by embedding many-to-many matchings into our setting, we apply our model to job markets with labor unions. To some extent the unions may provide job guarantees and, therefore, have influence on the stability of the job market.
    Keywords: Social networks, Constitutions, Stability, Many-to-Many Matchings.
    JEL: C72 C78 D85
    Date: 2014–01
  10. By: Zumbühl M.A.; Pfann G.A.; Pfann G.A.; Dohmen T.J. (ROA)
    Abstract: We study empirically whether there is scope for parents to shape the economicpreferences and attitudes of their children through purposeful investments. Weexploit information on the risk and trust attitudes of parents and their children, as well as rich information about parental efforts in the upbringing of their children from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study. Our results show that parents who invest more in the upbringing of their children are more similar to them with respect to risk and trust attitudes and thus transmit their own attitudes more strongly. The results are robust to including variables on the relationship between children and parents, family size, and the parents socioeconomic background.
    Keywords: Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty: General; Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure; Domestic Abuse; Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth; Job, Occupational, and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification;
    JEL: D80 J12 J13 J62 Z13
    Date: 2013
  11. By: Gobien, Simone; Vollan, Björn
    Abstract: Mutual aid among villagers in developing countries often is the sole possibility to insure against economic shocks. By using field laboratory experiments in Cambodian villages we study social cohesion in newly resettled and established communities which are both part of a land distribution project. All participants signed up voluntarily for the project, share comparable socio-demographic attributes and have similar preexisting network ties. We use a version of the solidarity game to identify the effect of a voluntary resettlement program on the willingness to help fellow villagers after an income shock. The voluntary resettled players only transfer between 41 % and 57 % of the amount the non-resettled players transfer to an anonymous community member. The solidarity differences are not only driven by lower expectations that the others would also help but are based on more selfish preferences among resettled farmers. Our findings are relevant for resettlement policies, because recipients might have to get additional compensation and formal insurance against the negative social consequences of resettlement until social cohesion is eventually re-established. --
    JEL: C93 O15 O22
    Date: 2013
  12. By: Cicognani, Simona; Mittone, Luigi
    Abstract: This paper extends choice theory by allowing for the interaction between cognitive costs and social norms. The authors experimentally investigate the role of imitation and temporal decisional patterns when participants face a task which is costly in cognitive terms. They identify two main reasons for imitative behavior. First, individuals belonging to a community might want to conform to others to obey to social norms. Second, individuals might be boundedly rational and consider imitation as a decisional device when comparing alternatives is cognitively demanding. In order to empirically disentangle the two effects, the authors present a laboratory experiment in which they model the choice of different alternatives through high or low cognitive costs and feedback information given to subjects. Their results do not provide strong evidence for imitative behavior. They find instead a temporal pattern in the distribution of choices, both in the high-cost and low-cost conditions. --
    Keywords: social norms,cognitive costs,laboratory experiments
    JEL: C92 D81 Z13
    Date: 2014
  13. By: Koopmans, Ruud; Schaeffer, Merlin
    Abstract: Ethnic diversity is typically measured by the well-known Hirschman-Herfindahl Index. This paper discusses the merits of an alternative approach, which is in our view better suited to tease out why and how ethnic diversity matters. The approach consists of two elements. First, all existing diversity indices are non-relational. From the viewpoint of theoretical accounts that attribute negative diversity effects to ingroup favouritism and out-group threat, it should however matter whether, given a certain level of overall diversity, an individual belongs to a minority group or to the dominant majority. We therefore decompose diversity by distinguishing the in-group share from the diversity of ethnic out-groups. Second, we show how generalized entropy measures can be used to test which of diversity's two basic dimensions matters most: the variety of groups, or the unequal distribution (balance) of the population over groups. These measures allow us to test different theoretical explanations against each other, because they imply different expectations regarding the effects of in-group size, out-group variety, and balance. We apply these ideas in an analysis of various social cohesion measures across 55 German localities and show that in-group size matters more for natives, and out-group diversity more for immigrants. In both groups, the variety component of diversity seems to be decisive. These findings provide little support for group threat as an important mechanism behind negative diversity effects, and are most in line with the predictions of theories that emphasize coordination problems, asymmetric preferences, and network closure, which are maximized where there are many small groups. --
    Keywords: ethnic diversity,social cohesion,entropy,in-group favouritism,group threat
    Date: 2013
  14. By: Askitas, Nikos (IZA)
    Abstract: There is continuing debate about what explains cooperation and self-sacrifice in nature and in particular in humans. This paper suggests a new way to think about this famous problem. I argue that, for an evolutionary biologist as well as a quantitative social scientist, the triangle of two players in the presence of a predator (passing and shooting in 2-on-1 situations) is a fundamental conceptual building-block for understanding these phenomena. I show how, in the presence of a predator, cooperative equilibria rationally emerge among entirely selfish agents. If we examine the dynamics of such a model, and bias the lead player (ball possessor with pass/shoot i.e. cooperate/defect dilemma) in the selfish direction by only an infinitesimal amount, then, remarkably, the trajectories of the new system move towards a cooperative equilibrium. I argue that "predators" are common in the biological jungle but also in everyday human settings. Intuitively, this paper builds on the simple idea – a familiar one to a biologist observing the natural world but perhaps less so to social scientists – that everybody has enemies. As a technical contribution, I solve these models analytically in the unbiased case and numerically by an O(h5) approximation with the Runge-Kutta method.
    Keywords: evolutionary game theory, fitness, altruism, evolution of cooperation, decoy, Nash equlibrium, repeated matching-pennies game, predator, emergence, autonomous ODE, classical Runge-Kutta method
    JEL: C71 C73 D87
    Date: 2014–01
  15. By: Sontuoso, Alessandro
    Abstract: Human conduct is often guided by “conformist preferences”, which thrive on behavioral expectations within a society, with conformity being the act of changing one’s behavior to match the purported beliefs of others. Despite a growing research line considering preferences for a fair outcome allocation, economic theories do not explain the fundamental conditions for some social norm – whether of fairness or not – to be followed. Inspired by Bicchieri’s account of norms (C.Bicchieri, The Grammar of Society. CambridgeUP [2006]), I develop a behavioral theory of norm conformity building on the Battigalli-Dufwenberg “psychological” framework (P.Battigalli and M.Dufwenberg, Dynamic Psychological Games, J.Econ.Theory, 144:1-35 [2009]).
    Keywords: Conformist Preferences; Social Norms; Social Dilemmas; Psychological Game Theory; Behavioral Economics
    JEL: A13 C72 C92 D63 H41
    Date: 2013–12–27

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