nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2014‒06‒02
eleven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
La Sapienza University of Rome

  1. Viral Altruism? Generosity and Social Contagion in Online Networks By Lacetera, Nicola; Macis, Mario; Mele, Angelo
  2. Social Capital, Government Expenditures, and Growth By Ponzetto, Giacomo AM; Troiano, Ugo
  3. Trust and In-Group Favoritism in a Culture of Crime By Meier, Stephan; Pierce, Lamar; Vaccaro, Antonino
  4. Understanding Honesty: An Experiment Regarding Heterogeneous Responses to Situational Social Norms By Gibson, Rajna; Tanner, Carmen; Wagner, Alexander F
  5. How Urbanization Affect Employment and Social Interactions By Sato, Yasuhiro; Zenou, Yves
  6. Mothers, Friends and Gender Identity By Olivetti, Claudia; Patacchini, Eleonora; Zenou, Yves
  7. Heterogeneous Peer Effects in Education By Patacchini, Eleonora; Rainone, Edoardo; Zenou, Yves
  8. Effects of religiosity on social behaviour: Experimental evidence from a representative sample of Spaniards By Brañas-Garza, Pablo; Espín, Antonio M.; Neuman, Shoshana
  9. Coworkers, Networks, and Job Search Outcomes By Saygin, Perihan Ozge; Weber, Andrea; Weynandt, Michèle
  10. ‘United in Diversity’---Does Social Diversity Increase Subjective? By Matthias Opfinger
  11. Key Players in Co-Offending Networks By Lindquist, Matthew; Zenou, Yves

  1. By: Lacetera, Nicola (University of Toronto); Macis, Mario (Johns Hopkins University); Mele, Angelo (Johns Hopkins University)
    Abstract: How do the social media affect the success of charitable promotional campaigns? We use individual-level longitudinal data and experimental data from a social-media application that facilitates donations while broadcasting donors' activities to their contacts. We find that broadcasting is positively associated with donations, although some individuals appear to opportunistically broadcast a pledge, and then delete it. Furthermore, broadcasting a pledge is associated with more pledges by a user's contacts. However, results from a field experiment where broadcasting of the initial pledges was randomized suggest that the observational findings were likely due to homophily rather than genuine social contagion effects. The experiment also shows that, although our campaigns generated considerable attention in the forms of clicks and “likes,” only a small number of donations (30 out of 6.4 million users reached) were made. Finally, an online survey experiment showed that both the presence of an intermediary and a fee contributed to the low donation rate. Our findings suggest that online platforms for charitable giving may stimulate costless forms of involvement, but have a smaller impact on actual donations, and that network effects might be limited when it comes to contributing real money to charities.
    Keywords: altruism, fundraising, social media, network effects, field experiments
    JEL: D64 C93
    Date: 2014–05
  2. By: Ponzetto, Giacomo AM; Troiano, Ugo
    Abstract: The impact of social capital on economic growth is empirically well documented. Yet the reasons for this relationship remain theoretically understudied. We present a tractable stochastic endogenous growth model that explains how social capital influences economic development. In our model, social capital increases citizens' awareness of government activity. As a consequence, we find it alleviates the electoral incentives to under-invest in education, whose returns are delayed in time and relatively less visible to voters. In the dynamic equilibrium, higher social capital increases both the amount and the efficiency of public investment in education, permanently raising the growth rate. Our theory predicts that higher and more homogeneously distributed social capital should increase public expenditure on education. We provide suggestive cross-country evidence consistent with these predictions.
    Keywords: Economic Growth; Education Expenditures; Elections; Government Expenditures; Imperfect Information; Social Capital
    JEL: D72 D83 H52 I22 I25 O43 Z13
    Date: 2014–03
  3. By: Meier, Stephan (Columbia University); Pierce, Lamar (Washington University, St. Louis); Vaccaro, Antonino (University of Navarra)
    Abstract: We use experiments in high schools in two neighborhoods in the metropolitan area of Palermo, Italy to experimentally demonstrate that the historical informal institution of organized crime can undermine current institutions, even in religiously and ethnically homogeneous populations. Using trust and prisoner's dilemma games, we found that students in a neighborhood with high Mafia involvement exhibit lower generalized trust and trustworthiness, but higher in-group favoritism, with punishment norms failing to resolve these deficits. Our study suggests that a culture of organized crime can affect adolescent norms and attitudes that might support a vicious cycle of in-group favoritism and crime that in turn hinders economic development.
    Keywords: organized crime, trust, in-group favoritism, Mafia
    JEL: C91 C92
    Date: 2014–05
  4. By: Gibson, Rajna; Tanner, Carmen; Wagner, Alexander F
    Abstract: We conduct a laboratory experiment in which we expose participants to situational social norms of approval or disapproval of lying. Participants conform to the situational pressure, but there are important differences in individual reactions. We collect data on a number of individual characteristics, including proxies for intrinsic costs of lying (ICOL). Because different ICOL proxies tap into different motives for honesty, the extent of the interaction of these proxies with situational norms and with economic incentives sheds new light on why people act more truthfully than predicted by standard economic models. This analysis also helps to determine which characteristics explain individuals’ resistance to situational norms.
    Keywords: Conformity; Honesty; Pro-social concern; Protected values; Self-signaling; Situational social norms
    JEL: C91 G02 G30 M14
    Date: 2014–03
  5. By: Sato, Yasuhiro; Zenou, Yves
    Abstract: We develop a model where the unemployed workers in the city can find a job either directly or through weak or strong ties. We show that, in denser areas, individuals choose to interact with more people and meet more random encounters (weak ties) than in sparsely populated areas. We also demonstrate that, for a low urbanization level, there is a unique steady-state equilibrium where workers do not interact with weak ties, while, for a high level of urbanization, there is a unique steady-state equilibrium with full social interactions. We show that these equilibria are usually not socially efficient when the urban population has an intermediate size because there are too few social interactions compared to the social optimum. Finally, even when social interactions are optimal, we show that there is over-urbanization in equilibrium.
    Keywords: labor market.; social interactions; strong ties; urban economics; Weak ties
    JEL: J61 R14 R23
    Date: 2014–02
  6. By: Olivetti, Claudia; Patacchini, Eleonora; Zenou, Yves
    Abstract: This paper explores a novel mechanism of gender identity formation. Specifically, we explore how the work behavior of a teenager's own mother, as well as that of her friends' mothers, affect her work decisions in adulthood. The first mechanism is commonly included in economic models. The second, which in social psychology is also emphasized as an important factor in gender identity formation, has so far been overlooked. Accordingly, our key theoretical innovation is how the utility function is modeled. It is assumed that an adult woman's work decisions are influenced by her own mother's choices as well as her friends' mothers' choices when she was a teenager, and the interaction between the two. The empirical salience of this behavioral model is tested using a network model specification together with the longitudinal structure of the AddHealth data set. We find that both intergenerational channels positively affect a woman's work hours in adulthood, but the cross effect is negative, indicating the existence of cultural substitutability. That is, the mother's role model effect is larger the more distant she is (in terms of working hours) from the friends' mothers.
    Keywords: gender identity; Intergenerational transmission; labor force participation; social networks
    JEL: J22 Z13
    Date: 2013–10
  7. By: Patacchini, Eleonora; Rainone, Edoardo; Zenou, Yves
    Abstract: We develop a network model looking at the role of different types of peers in education. The empirical salience of the model is tested using a very detailed longitudinal dataset of adolescent friendship networks. We find that there are strong and persistent peer effects in education but peers tend to be influential only when their friendships last more than a year and not a shorter period of time. In the short run, however, both types of ties have an impact on current grades.
    Keywords: education; efficient 2SLS estimation; long-term peer effects; Social networks; spatial autoregressive model
    JEL: C31 D85 I21 Z13
    Date: 2014–02
  8. By: Brañas-Garza, Pablo; Espín, Antonio M.; Neuman, Shoshana
    Abstract: This study explores the effect of several personal religion-related variables on social behaviour, using three paradigmatic economic games: the dictator (DG), ultimatum (UG), and trust (TG) games. A large carefully designed sample of a Spanish urban adult population (N=766) is employed. From participants’ decisions in these games we obtain measures of altruism, bargaining behaviour and sense of fairness/equality, trust, and positive reciprocity. Three dimensions of religiosity are examined: (i) religious denomination; (ii) the intensity of religiosity, measured by active participation at church services; and (iii) converting out into a different denomination than the one raised in. The major results are: (i) individuals with “no religion” made decisions closer to rational selfish behaviour in the DG and the UG compared to those who affiliate with a “standard” religious denomination; (ii) among Catholics, intensity of religiosity is the key variable that affects social behaviour insofar as religiously-active individuals are generally more pro-social than non-active ones; and (iii) the religion raised in seems to have no effect on pro-sociality, beyond the effect of the current measures of religiosity. Importantly, behaviour in the TG is not predicted by any of the religion-related variables we analyse. Given the accelerating share of “no religion” individuals (in Europe and elsewhere) and the large influx of immigrants – who tend to be more religiously active compared to the native populations – our findings have significant implications for the future pro-sociality patterns in Europe.
    Keywords: church attendance; economic experiments; pro-social behaviour; religion; Spain
    JEL: C7 C9 Z12 Z13
    Date: 2013–10
  9. By: Saygin, Perihan Ozge (University of Mannheim); Weber, Andrea (University of Mannheim); Weynandt, Michèle (University of Mannheim)
    Abstract: Social networks are an important channel of information transmission in the labor market. This paper studies the mechanisms by which social networks have an impact on labor market outcomes of displaced workers. We base our analysis on administrative records for the universe of private sector employment in Austria where we define work-related networks formed by past coworkers. To distinguish between mechanisms of information transmission, we adopt two different network perspectives. From the job-seeker's perspective we analyze how network characteristics affect job finding rates and wages in the new jobs. Then we switch to the perspective of the hiring firm and analyze which types of displaced workers get hired by firms that are connected to a closing firm via past coworker links. Our results indicate that employment status and the firm types of former coworkers are crucial for the job finding success of their displaced contacts. Moreover, 21% of displaced workers find a new job in a firm that is connected to their former workplace. Among all workers that were displaced from the same closing firm those with a direct link to a former coworker are twice as likely to be hired by the connected firm than workers without a link. These results highlight the role of work related networks in the transmission of job information and strongly suggest that job referrals are an important mechanism.
    Keywords: social networks, job displacement, plant closure, referral hiring
    JEL: J63 J64 M51
    Date: 2014–05
  10. By: Matthias Opfinger
    Abstract: The European Union emphasizes the advantages arising from diversity. However, economic studies prove that diversity can lead to detrimental outcomes, ultimately resulting in lower well-being. This paper assesses the direct link between well-being and diversity within a society, in terms of ethnicity, language, and religion. I find that ethnic diversity is linearly and positively related to happiness and life satisfaction. The other dimensions of social diversity and well-being are related in a U-shape. At low levels of diversity an increase reduces well-being. The relationship becomes positive only if diversity is sufficiently high. I argue that a threat to the dominant position of one group prevents the formation of a common identity. If diversity is sufficiently high, the groups have to establish contact which reduces prejudices and helps to form a common identity.
    Keywords: Social Diversity, Common Identity, Group Threat, Tolerant Societies
    JEL: I3 Z1
    Date: 2014
  11. By: Lindquist, Matthew; Zenou, Yves
    Abstract: We study peer effects in crime by analyzing co-offending networks. We first provide a credible estimate of peer effects in these networks equal to 0.17. This estimate implies a social multiplier of 1.2 for those individuals linked to only one co-offender and a social multiplier of 2 for those linked to three co-offenders. We then provide one of the first empirical tests of the key player policy in a real world setting. This policy defines a micro-founded strategy for removing the criminal from each network that reduces total crime by the largest amount. Using longitudinal data, we are able to compare the theoretical predictions of the key player policy with real world outcomes. By focusing on networks for which the key player has disappeared over time, we show that the theoretical predicted crime reduction is close to what is observed in the real world. We also show that the key player policy outperforms other reasonable police policies such as targeting the most active criminals or targeting criminals who have the highest betweenness or eigenvector centrality in the network. This indicates that behavioral-based policies can be more efficient in reducing crime than those based on algorithms that have no micro-foundation.
    Keywords: Crime; crime policies; key player; peer effects; social multiplier; social networks
    JEL: A14 K42 Z13
    Date: 2014–03

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