nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2014‒08‒20
eleven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Social Norms and the Enforcement of Laws By Daron Acemoglu; Matthew O. Jackson
  2. Nurture vs. Nurture: Endogenous Parental and Peer Effects and the Transmission of Culture By Daniel Vaughan   
  3. Careers Patterns in Greek Academia: Social Capital and Intelligent Careers, but for Whom? By Nikos Bozionelos
  4. Trust and the Welfare State: The Twin Peaks Curve By Yann Algan; Pierre Cahuc; Marc Sangnier
  5. Social interactions and the retirement age By Niels Vermeer; Maarten van Rooij; Daniel van Vuuren
  6. Can Intangible Capital Explain Cyclical Movements in the Labor Wedge? By Leena Rudanko
  7. Providing global public goods: Electoral delegation and cooperation By Martin G. Kocher; Fanagfang Tan; Jing Yu
  8. Unintended triadic closure in social networks: The strategic formation of research collaborations between French inventors By Nicolas CARAYOL; Lorenzo CASSI; Pascale ROUX
  9. Rainfall Risk and Religious Membership in the Late Nineteenth-Century United States By Ager, Philipp; Ciccone, Antonio
  10. Determinants of Charitable Giving to Unexpected Natural Disasters: Evidence from Two Major Earthquakes in Japan By Ryo Ishida
  11. Superstars in politics: the role of the media in the rise and success of Junichiro Koizumi By Eiji Yamamura; Fabio Sabatini

  1. By: Daron Acemoglu; Matthew O. Jackson
    Abstract: We examine the interplay between social norms and the enforcement of laws. Agents choose a behavior (e.g., tax evasion, production of low-quality products, corruption, substance abuse, etc.) and then are randomly matched with another agent. An agent's payoff decreases with the mismatch between her behavior and her partner's, as well as average behavior in society. A law is an upper bound (cap) on behavior and a law-breaker, when detected, pays a fine and has her behavior forced down to the level of the law. Law-breaking depends on social norms because detection relies, at least in part, on private cooperation and whistle-blowing. Law-abiding agents have an incentive to whistle-blow because this reduces the mismatch with their partner's behavior as well as the overall negative externality. When laws are in conflict with norms so that many agents are breaking the law, each agent anticipates little whistle-blowing and is more likely to also break the law. Tighter laws (banning more behaviors) have counteracting effects, reducing behavior among law-abiding individuals but inducing more law-breaking. Greater fines for law breaking and better public enforcement reduce the number of law-breakers and behavior among law-abiding agents, but increase levels of law breaking among law-breakers (who effectively choose their behavior targeting other high-behavior law-breakers). Within a dynamic version of the model, we show that laws that are in strong conflict with prevailing social norms may backfire, while gradual tightening of laws can be more effective by changing social norms.
    JEL: C72 C73 P16 Z1
    Date: 2014–08
  2. By: Daniel Vaughan   
    Abstract: I propose a model of cultural transmission where children interact strategically with each other with the only desire to fit in, and parents purposefully socialize their children to their own culture. In the empirical section I estimate parental and peer effects using US teenager data on religious attitudes and alcohol consumption from the Add Health study. I find that, controlling for individual and school observables, children attitudes are a weighted average of their parents' and peers' attitudes, with the latter generally dominating. I then show that these are stable in time with now signs of fading away in the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Finally, the comparative statics allow me to separate endogenous from exogenous parental effects.
    Keywords: Cultural transmission, endogenous preferences, Add Health study, preference for conformity, endogenous socialization
    JEL: D19 J13 J15
    Date: 2013–04
  3. By: Nikos Bozionelos (Audencia Recherche - Audencia)
    Abstract: Purpose: To develop a comprehensive account for careers within the Greek academic system. Historical, cultural and geographical features of the country have created a unique context that has shaped the way academic careers evolve. Design/methodology/approach: The primary methods of data collection were retrospective participant observation and discussions in interview form with individuals who have had various types of experience with the Greek Higher Education system. Findings: The major factor that shapes careers in Greek academia is social capital or Know-whom that operates within a broader cultural environment where institutional collectivism is extremely low, the in-group - out-group distinction is a major element, and political party affiliation plays a key role in everyday affairs. As a result academic careers in Greece are almost exclusively determined by membership, a priory or earned, to an "in-group" that is linked via blood, family friendship, business and political party ties. This "in-group" uses its social capital to control academic careers across all stages for the benefit of its members. Research limitations/implications: There are method limitations, but relevant concerns were largely alleviated by precautionary measures and the way data were utilized. Ethnography may be the most appropriate method to disentangle the way networks and social capital impact careers. Practical implications: Achieving substantive change, such as increasing meritocracy, within a sector may be impossible without considering the broader cultural context that encapsulates it. Originality/value: The study is amongst the very first to unveil the "dark side" of social capital, and show how social capital may benefit the interests of in-groups at the expense of the collective.
    Keywords: Academia, Careers, Politics, Social capital, National culture, Nepotism, Greece, Dark side, Intelligent careers, Know-whom, In-group, Out-group
    Date: 2014–06–01
  4. By: Yann Algan (Sciences Po); Pierre Cahuc (CREST-ENSAE, École Polytechnique, IZA, CEPR); Marc Sangnier (Aix-Marseille University (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), CNRS & EHESS)
    Abstract: We show the existence of a twin peaks relation between trust and the size of the welfare state that stems from two opposing forces. Uncivic people support large welfare states because they expect to benefit from them without bearing their costs. But civic individuals support generous benefits and high taxes only when they are surrounded by trustworthy individuals. We provide empirical evidence for these behaviors and this twin peaks relation in the OECD countries.
    Keywords: welfare state, Trust, civism, corruption, redistribution
    JEL: H1 Z1
    Date: 2014–06
  5. By: Niels Vermeer; Maarten van Rooij; Daniel van Vuuren
    Abstract: In this study we gauge the impact of social interactions on individual retirement preferences. A survey including self-assessments and vignette questions shows that individual preferences are affected by preferences and actual retirement behavior of the social environment. Retirement from paid work depends on the retirement age of relatives, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Information and advice provided by the social environment play a role in the retirement decision. A majority of respondents would postpone retirement when their social environment retires later. A one year increase in the social environment's retirement age leads to an average increase of three months in the individual retirement age. In addition, people tend to stick more to the state pension age than to other retirement ages, which suggests a norm about retirement at the state pension age.
    Keywords: retirement decisions; social norms; sources of advice; state pension age
    JEL: J26 J14 Z13
    Date: 2014–06
  6. By: Leena Rudanko (Boston University)
    Abstract: Intangible capital is an important factor of production in modern economies that is generally neglected in business cycle analyses. We demonstrate that intangible capital can have a substantial impact on business cycle dynamics, especially if the intangible is complementary with production capacity. We focus on customer capital: the capital embodied in the relationships a firm has with its customers. Introducing customer capital into a standard real business cycle model generates a volatile and countercyclical labor wedge, due to a mismeasured marginal product of labor. We also provide new evidence on cyclical variation in selling effort to discipline the exercise.
    Date: 2014
  7. By: Martin G. Kocher; Fanagfang Tan; Jing Yu
    Abstract: This paper experimentally examines the effect of electoral delegation on providing global public goods shared by several groups. Each group elects a delegate who can freely decide on each group member's contribution (including the contribution of herself) to the global public good. Our results show that people mostly vote for delegates who assign equal contributions for every group member. However, in contrast to standard theoretical predictions, unequal contributions across groups drive cooperation down over time, and it decreases efficiency by almost 50% compared to the benchmark. This pattern is not driven by delegates trying to exploit their fellow group members, as indicated by the theory - quite to the opposite, other-regarding preferences and a re-election incentives guarantee that delegates assign equal contributions for all group members. Since the source of the resulting inefficiency is the polycentric nature of global public goods provision together with other-regarding preferences, we use the term P-inefficiency to describe our finding.
    Keywords: Global Public Goods, Delegation, Cooperation, Experiment
    JEL: C92 D72 H41
    Date: 2014–08–01
  8. By: Nicolas CARAYOL; Lorenzo CASSI; Pascale ROUX
    Abstract: Most of the empirical and theoretical literature aimed at understanding the behavioral patterns that lead to the formation of social networks argue that such networks are clustered because agents like social closure, since it facilitates cooperation enforcement, for instance, or increases match quality. We argue that, in certain circumstances, network clustering may arise for other reasons, even though agents may actually not like redundancy in connections. We propose a theoretical model of the formation of new research collaboration that we estimate on the longitudinal evolution of the French co-invention network. We show that if this type of social network is closed it is because it correlates with exogenous metrics affecting the costs of direct link formation, not because agents prefer to close triangles per se. This result is obtained thanks to the richness of our dataset, allowing us to control for dyadic fixed-effects and various costs of network formation (geographical distance, technological specialization, and institution boundaries and attributes) omitted in previous studies.
    Keywords: Strategic network formation; Inter-individual collaborations; Closure; Clustering; Patents.
    JEL: D85 C23 O31 Z13
    Date: 2014
  9. By: Ager, Philipp; Ciccone, Antonio
    Abstract: Building on the idea that religious communities provide mutual insurance against some idiosyncratic risks, we argue that religious membership is more valuable in societies exposed to greater common risk. In our empirical analysis we exploit rainfall risk as a source of common economic risk in the nineteenth-century United States and show that religious communities were larger in counties where they faced greater rainfall risk. The link between rainfall risk and the size of religious communities is stronger in counties that were more agricultural, that had lower population densities, or that were exposed to greater rainfall risk during the growing season.
    Keywords: Religious community size , agricultural risk , informal insurance
    Date: 2014
  10. By: Ryo Ishida (Visiting Scholar, Policy Research Institute, Ministry of Finance, Japan)
    Abstract: A great amount of donations were collected after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and the 1995 Hanshin Earthquake, both of which occurred in Japan. Such private donations ought to be enhanced in Japan, since the Japanese government already incurs enormous amount of debt, but little is known about what kind of people made such private donations. Using household-level monthly panel data, we explored what factors are associated with donors making donations for the victims of such earthquakes. Comparing the data just before and after these earthquakes, one can observe a positive association between donations made before the earthquake and donations for the earthquake victims, which correlates with previous studies. Additionally, empirical evidence showed that donations for the earthquake victims are likely to be the function of geographical distance from the disaster epicenter with a negative coefficient, which may indicate that sympathy for the earthquake victims is negatively associated with distance. In addition, income, savings, and age were observed to have a positive association with donations for the earthquake victims and donations for other purposes. These factors were identified to be significant factors both for the Tohoku Earthquake and for the Hanshin Earthquake. The positive association between age and donations for the earthquake victims was, however, not observed for households that donated before the earthquake.
    Keywords: Tohoku Earthquake, Hanshin Earthquake, donation, Tobit, Family Income and Expenditure Survey
    JEL: D19 D64 H31 H41
  11. By: Eiji Yamamura; Fabio Sabatini
    Abstract: This paper explores the role of mass media in people perceptions of charismatic leaders, focusing on the case of Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan from 2001 to 2006. Using survey data collected immediately after his 2005 landslide electoral victory, this study empirically assesses the influence of television and newspapers on support for Koizumi and for the most distinctive policy action he announced during his campaign, the privatization of the postal service.
    Date: 2014–07

This nep-soc issue is ©2014 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.