nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2014‒03‒08
nine papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
La Sapienza University of Rome

  1. Expectation Formation and Social Influence By Andreas Karpf
  2. School cheating and social capital By Marco Paccagnella; Paolo Sestito
  3. The structure of online activism By Kevin Lewis; Kurt Gray; Jens Meierhenrich
  4. "They Are Not Like Us": Understanding Social Exclusion By Lakhani, Sadaf; Sacks, Audrey; Heltberg, Rasmus
  5. Gains from Sharing: Sticky Norms, Endogenous Preferences, and the Economics of Shareable Goods By Anders Fremstad
  6. Peer Pressure and Productivity: The Role of Observing and Being Observed By Sotiris Georganas; Mirco Tonin; Michael Vlassopoulos
  7. Referral Incentives in Crowdfunding By Naroditskiy, Victor; Stein, Sebastian; Tonin, Mirco; Tran-Thanh, Long; Vlassopoulos, Michael; Jennings, Nicholas R.
  8. Donating Time to Charity: Not Working for Nothing By Aoki, Yu
  9. Brothers in Alms? Coordination Betwen Nonprofits on Markets for Donations By Gani Aldashev; Marco Marini; Thierry Verdier

  1. By: Andreas Karpf (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Paris 1 - Panthéon-Sorbonne, EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris)
    Abstract: This article investigate the role of social influence for the expectation formation of economic agents. Using self-organizing Kohonen maps the repeated cross-section data set of the University of Michigan consumer survey is transformed into a pseudo panel allowing to monitor the expectation formation of cohorts with regard to business confidence over the whole available time span (January 1978 - June 2013). Subsequently the information theoretic concept of transfer entropy is used to reveal the role of social influence on the expectation formation as well as the underlying network structure. It is shown that social influence strongly depends on socio-demographic characteristics and also coincides with a high degree of connectivity. The social network estimated in this way follows a power-law and thus exhibits similar structure as networks observed in other contexts.
    Keywords: Social networks; expectations; household survey
    Date: 2014–02
  2. By: Marco Paccagnella (Bank of Italy); Paolo Sestito (Bank of Italy)
    Abstract: In this paper we propose and validate cheating in standardized tests as a new indirect measure of social capital. Given the low-stakes nature of most of the tests examined here, we interpret the widespread presence of cheating as a signal of limited trustin central education authorities. Cheating is negatively correlated with several social capital proxies in the local environment where a school is located (the municipality or the province), even controlling for area-wide differences in social capital and for a number of features of the local environment. When distinguishing between different kinds of social capital – contrasting universalistic and particularistic social values (along the lines of de Blasio, Scalise and Sestito, forthcoming) – cheating appears to be negatively correlated only with measures of universalistic social values (while the correlation of cheating with particularistic social values, if any, is positive). We also document a number of empirical regularities in cheating behavior: (i) within classes student homogeneity is associated with higher cheating (Lucifora and Tonello, 2012); (ii) the presence of external inspectors greatly reduces cheating (Bertoni, Brunello and Rocco, 2013), and to a greater extent in low social capital environments; (iii) in primary schools, cheating is more pervasive in smaller classes; (iv) and a larger share of “local” teachers, or of teachers with a permanent contract, is generally associated with higher levels of cheating.
    Keywords: cheating, social capital
    JEL: I28 D73 Z10
    Date: 2014–02
  3. By: Kevin Lewis; Kurt Gray; Jens Meierhenrich
    Abstract: Despite the tremendous amount of attention that has been paid to the internet as a tool for civic engagement, we still have little idea how “active” is the average online activist or how social networks matter in facilitating electronic protest. In this paper, we use complete records on the donation and recruitment activity of 1.2 million members of the Save Darfur “Cause” on Facebook to provide a detailed first look at a massive online social movement. While both donation and recruitment behavior are socially patterned, the vast majority of Cause members recruited no one else into the Cause and contributed no money to it-suggesting that in the case of the Save Darfur campaign, Facebook conjured an illusion of activism rather than facilitating the real thing.
    Keywords: social networks; social movements; social media; online activism; Facebook; Save Darfur
    JEL: L91 L96
    Date: 2014–02–18
  4. By: Lakhani, Sadaf; Sacks, Audrey; Heltberg, Rasmus
    Abstract: Negative attitudes toward groups in society are widespread and underpin systematic processes of social exclusion that marginalize people and deny them opportunities and dignity. This paper looks at the processes underlying social exclusion. It uses data covering Eastern Europe and Central Asia to study the responses to a simple hypothetical survey question about which specific groups respondents would not like to have as neighbors. Unwelcoming attitudes toward groups such as immigrants, ethnic minorities, the poor, HIV+ individuals, and others are surprisingly common. These attitudes fall into three distinct clusters: intolerance for the poor and for different lifecycle stages; intolerance toward stigmatized attributes and behaviors; and intolerance toward specific identity groups. An empirical analysis of the determinants of attitudes shows that country-specific factors are far more important than socio-economic characteristics. These findings could have important implications for theories about exclusion and for the design of appropriate social inclusion policies. The authors argue that strategies to address social exclusion need to consider ways to change social norms, attitudes, and behaviors toward disadvantaged groups. The paper explores potential entry points for change within formal and informal institutions.
    Keywords: Health Monitoring&Evaluation,Population Policies,Social Inclusion&Institutions,Disability,Race in Society
    Date: 2014–02–01
  5. By: Anders Fremstad (University of Massachusetts-Amherst)
    Abstract: There are often "gains from sharing" underutilized goods with others. People routinely share tools, media, gear, electronics, toys, space, and vehicles with relatives, friends, and neighbors, and the internet is opening up new opportunities to share them with strangers. Drawing on the work of James Buchanan, Elinor Ostrom, and Yochai Benkler, I develop an economic framework of decentralized sharing. My analysis challenges the implications of simple economic models, which ignore the role of sticky norms and endogenous preferences and, therefore, suggest that people are always sharing at efficient levels. I argue that the online platforms may gradually transform norms and preferences to substantially increase peer-to-peer borrowing and lending. Using data from General Social Survey, the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the online platform NeighborGoods, and my own survey, I estimate the current and potential value of decentralized sharing. I find that today peer-to-peer borrowing is worth at least $179 a year for 30 percent of Americans and at least $774 for 8 percent of Americans. If the online platforms are able to facilitate high levels of sharing among loosely-tied individuals, the annual benefit to the average household would be modest but significant, perhaps one thousand dollars a year. My analysis suggests that that there are significant gains from sharing tools, media, gear, electronics, toys, pets, vacation homes, and lodging, but the largest gains will likely come from sharing privately-owned vehicles.
    Keywords: theory of clubs, theory of households, excludable non-rival goods, decentralized cooperation, reciprocity
    JEL: D10 D70 Q01
    Date: 2014
  6. By: Sotiris Georganas; Mirco Tonin; Michael Vlassopoulos
    Abstract: Peer effects arise in situations where workers observe each others’ work activity. In this paper we disentangle the effect of observing a peer from that of being observed by a peer, by setting up a real effort experiment in which we manipulate the observability of performance. In particular, we randomize subjects into three groups: in the first one subjects are observed by another subject, but do not observe anybody; in the second one subjects observe somebody else’s performance, but are not observed by anybody; in the last group subjects work in isolation, neither observing, nor being observed. We consider both a piece rate compensation scheme, where pay depends solely on own performance, and a team compensation scheme, where pay also depends on the performance of other team members. Overall, we find some evidence that subjects who are observed increase productivity at least initially when compensation is team based, while we find that subjects observing react to what they see when compensation is based only on own performance.
    Keywords: peer effects, piece rate, team incentives, real-effort experiment
    JEL: D03 J24 M52 M59
    Date: 2014
  7. By: Naroditskiy, Victor (University of Southampton); Stein, Sebastian (University of Southampton); Tonin, Mirco (University of Southampton); Tran-Thanh, Long (University of Southampton); Vlassopoulos, Michael (University of Southampton); Jennings, Nicholas R. (University of Southampton)
    Abstract: Word-of-mouth, referral, or viral marketing is a highly sought-after way of advertising. We undertake a field experiment that compares incentive mechanisms for encouraging social media shares to support a given cause. Our experiment takes place on a website set up to promote a fundraising drive by a large cancer research charity. Site visitors who choose to sign up to support the cause are then asked to spread the word about the cause on Facebook, Twitter or other channels. Visitors are randomly assigned to one of four treatments that differ in the way social sharing activities are incentivised. Under the control treatment, no extra incentive is provided. Under two of the other mechanisms, the sharers are offered a fixed number of points that help take the campaign further. We compare low and high levels of such incentives for direct referrals. In the final treatment, we adopt a multi-level incentive mechanism that rewards direct as well as indirect referrals (where referred contacts refer others). We find that providing high level of incentives results in a statistically significant increase in sharing behaviour and resulting signups. Our data does not indicate a statistically significant increase for the low and recursive incentive mechanisms.
    Keywords: crowdfunding, referral marketing
    JEL: C93 D64 L31 M31
    Date: 2014–02
  8. By: Aoki, Yu (University of Aberdeen)
    Abstract: This paper explores the causal effect of volunteer work providing daily assistance to the elderly on elderly mortality. To identify the causal effect, I exploit the earthquake that occurred in midwestern Japan in 1995 as a natural experiment inducing exogenous variation in the level of volunteering. The municipalities hit by the earthquake experienced a sharp increase in the level of volunteering. Based on a comparison of mortality between the municipalities with no or little loss of life due to the earthquake, that experienced the sharp increase in the level of volunteering, and the nearby municipalities that were not hit by the earthquake, I find that volunteering significantly reduced elderly mortality. Close attention is paid to ensure that the results are not driven by the direct effects of the earthquake.
    Keywords: volunteer labor, charity, mortality
    JEL: I10 J14
    Date: 2014–02
  9. By: Gani Aldashev (Department of Economics and CRED, University of Namur); Marco Marini (University of Rome "La Sapienza" and CREI); Thierry Verdier (Paris School of Economics and CEPR)
    Abstract: Mission-driven nonprofit organizations compete for donations through fundraising activities. Such competition can lead to inefficient outcomes, if nonprofits impose externalities on each others' output. This paper studies the sustainability of fundraising coordination agreements, using a game-theoretic model of coalition formation. Three key characteristics determine the stability of cooperation: (i) the alliance formation rule, (ii) the extent to which fundraising efforts are strategic complements/substitutes, and (iii) whether deviation from the agreements is by an individual or by a group of nonprots. We also characterize necessary and su¢ cient conditions for the stability of Pareto-optimal full coordination in fundraising.
    Keywords: nonprofits, charitable giving, coordination, endogenous coalition formation, non-distribution constraint
    JEL: L31 D74 L44 C72
    Date: 2014–01

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