nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2015‒02‒16
eleven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Long Lasting Differences in Civic Capital: Evidence from a Unique Immigration Event in Italy By Bracco, Emanuele; De Paola, Maria; Green, Colin P.
  2. Cooperation and Expectations in Networks Evidence from a Network Public Good Experiment in Rural India By Marcel Fafchamps; A. Stefano Caria
  3. Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivations for Tax Compliance. Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment in Germany By Dwenger, Nadja; Kleven, Henrik; Rasul, Imran; Rincke, Johannes
  4. Spillovers in networks of user generated content: Pseudo-experimental evidence on Wikipedia By Kummer, Michael
  5. Evolution of cooperation in social dilemmas: signaling internalized norms By von Wangenheim, Georg; Müller, Stephan
  6. Effect of Income on Trust: Evidence from the 2009 Crisis in Russia By Sergei Guriev; Maxim Ananyev
  7. Trust in Government and Fiscal Adjustments By Weichenrieder, Alfons; Bursian, Dirk; Zimmer, Jochen
  8. The ABC of Cooperation in Voluntary Contribution and Common Pool Extraction Games By Kölle, Felix; Gächter, Simon; Quercia, Simone
  9. Social Norms or Income Taxation - What Drives Couple's Labor Supply? Experimental Evidence By Schröder, Melanie; Schmitt, Norma; Mantei, Britta; Brünn, Claudia
  10. Peer effects in collaborative content generation: The evidence from German Wikipedia By Slivko, Olga
  11. Honesty and Relational Contracts By Schmutzler, Armin; Holger, Herz; André, Volk

  1. By: Bracco, Emanuele (Lancaster University); De Paola, Maria (University of Calabria); Green, Colin P. (Lancaster University)
    Abstract: A range of evidence exists demonstrating that social capital is associated with a number of important economic outcomes such as economic growth, trade and crime. A recent literature goes further to illustrate how historical events and variation can lead to the development of differing and consequential social norms. This paper examines the related questions of how persistent initial variations in social capital are, and the extent to which immigrant groups, do or do not converge to the cultural and social norms of their recipient country by examining a unique and geographically concentrated immigration event in 16th century Italy. We demonstrate that despite the substantial time since migration these communities still display different behaviour consistent with higher civic capital than other comparable Italian communities. Moreover, we demonstrate that this difference does not appear to have changed over the last 70 years. For instance, differences in voter turnout apparent in the late 1940s remain in the 21st century. This latter finding has implications for our view of the likelihood of assimilation of immigrant groups to local norms, particularly in cases of large-scale migration.
    Keywords: social capital, electoral turnout, migration, persistence
    JEL: A13 D72 P16
    Date: 2015–01
  2. By: Marcel Fafchamps; A. Stefano Caria
    Abstract: We play a one-shot public good game in rural India between farmers connected to an exogenous star network.  Contributions by the centre of the star reach more players and have a larger impact on aggregate payoffs than contributions by the spoke players.  Yet, we find that the centre player contributes just as much as the average of the spokes.  We elicit expectations about the decisions of the centre player and, in randomly selected sessions, we disclose the average expectation of the farmers in the network.  Farmers match the disclosed values frequently and do so more often when the monetary cost of making a contribution is reduced.  However, disclosure is not associated with higher contributions.  Our results support the predictions of a model of other-regarding preferences where players care about the expectations of others.  This model is helpful to understand barriers to improvement in pro-social behaviour when groups expect low pro-sociality.
    Date: 2014–12–06
  3. By: Dwenger, Nadja; Kleven, Henrik; Rasul, Imran; Rincke, Johannes
    Abstract: Is tax compliance driven only by extrinsic motivations such as deterrence and tax policy or is there also a role for intrinsic motivations such as morals, norms and psychology? Agents may comply based on moral sentiments, social norms, guilt and shame (Andreoni et al. 1998), all of which are non-deterrence driven reasons for compliance. The importance of such intrinsically motivated compliance is hard to study empirically and therefore the least understood. This study uses a unique setting for making progress on this question: the local church tax in Germany. As we show in the paper, tax evaders, compliers, and donors can coexist in the local church tax system and be precisely distinguished from each other. Since there is zero deterrence in the baseline, baseline compliance provides a direct measure of intrinsically motivated tax compliance. Starting from the zero deterrence baseline we use a randomized field experiment to inject deterrence or recognition into the system. This allows us to study if policies aimed at either extrinsic motivation (deterrence) or intrinsic motivation (recognition) have qualitatively different effects on agents who have revealed each of those motivations in the baseline. Our main empirical findings are the following. First, a significant fraction of agents (23%) comply in the zero deterrence baseline where compliance would be zero absent intrinsic motivation, while the remaining 77% evade the tax. Intrinsic motivation is therefore substantial, although the majority behaves as rational, self-interested taxpayers. Second, announcing a zero audit probability (the status quo) has a small and insignificant effect on the compliance rate, showing that there is very little misperception on average. Third, tax salience and deterrence have strong effects on compliance for baseline evaders, but small and insignificant effects for baseline donors. This is consistent with the fact that the enforcement constraint is not binding for the intrinsically motivated and therefore they are naturally unresponsive to deterrence. Fourth and finally, recognition through social and monetary rewards for compliance has fundamentally different effects on baseline donors (who increase their payments) and baseline evaders (who reduce their payments). Hence, whether recognition helps or hurts depends crucially on what motivates taxpayers in the first place, with positive effects on the intrinsically motivated and negative effects on the extrinsically motivated. All of our findings can be explained by a model of tax compliance that unifies the standard Becker-Allingham-Sandmo approach (strengthening extrinsic motives for tax compliance) and the Andreoni (1989, 1990) warm-glow model of pro-social behaviour.
    JEL: C93 D03 H26
    Date: 2014
  4. By: Kummer, Michael
    Abstract: I quantify spillovers of attention in a network of content pages, which is challenging, because such networks form endogenously. I exploit exogenous variation in the article network of German Wikipedia to circumvent this problem. Wikipedia prominently advertises one featured article on its main site every day, which increases viewership of the advertised article. Shifts in the viewership of adjacent articles are due to their link from the treated article. Through this approach I isolate how the link network causally influences users' search and contribution behavior. I use a difference-in-differences analysis to estimate how attention spills to neighbors through the transient shock of advertisement. I further develop an extended peer effects model which relaxes the requirement of an exogenously given network. This model enables the estimation of the underlying spillover. Advertisements affect neighboring articles substantially: Their viewership increases by almost 70 percent. This, in turn, translates to increased editing activity. Attention is the driving mechanism behind views and short edits. Both outcomes are related to the order of links, while more substantial edits are not.
    Keywords: Social Media,Information,Knowledge,Spillovers,Networks,Natural Experiment
    JEL: L17 D62 D85 D29
    Date: 2014
  5. By: von Wangenheim, Georg; Müller, Stephan
    Abstract: Economists have a long tradition in identifying the evolution of cooperation in large, unstructured societies as a puzzle. We suggest a new explanation for cooperation which avoids restrictions of most previous attempts. Our explanation deals with the role of internalized norms for cooperation in large unstructured populations. Even internalized norms, i.e. norms which alter the perceived utility from acting in a cooperative or in an uncooperative way, will not help to overcome a dilemma in an unstructured society, unless and this is the thrust of the current paper individuals are able to signal their property of being a norm bearer. Only when internalization of the norm may be communicated in a reliable way, the picture may change. We derive necessary and sufficient condition for cooperation to be part of an evolutionary stable equilibrium. These conditions relate signaling cost of norm-adopters and non-adopters, the strength of the social norm and parameter measuring the cost of cooperation.
    JEL: A13 D02 C21
    Date: 2014
  6. By: Sergei Guriev (Département d'économie); Maxim Ananyev (UCLA)
    Abstract: This paper draws on a natural experiment to identify the relationship between income and trust. We use a unique panel dataset on Russia where GDP experienced an 8 percent drop in 2009. The effect of the crisis had been very uneven among Russian regions because of their differences in industrial structure inherited from the Soviet times. We find that the regions that specialize in producing capital goods, as well as those depending on oil and gas, had a more substantial income decline during the crisis. The variation in the industrial structure allows creating an instrument for the change in income. After instrumenting average regional income, we find that the effect of income on generalized social trust (the share of respondents saying that most people can be trusted) is statistically and economically significant. Controlling for conventional determinants of trust, we show that 10 percent decrease in income is associated with 5 percentage point decrease in trust. Given that the average level of trust in Russia is 25%, this magnitude is substantial. We also find that post-crisis economic recovery did not restore pre-crisis trust level. Trust recovered only in those regions where the 2009 decline in trust was small. In the regions with the large decline in trust during the crisis, trust in 2014 was still 10 percentage points below its pre-crisis level.
    Date: 2015–02
  7. By: Weichenrieder, Alfons; Bursian, Dirk; Zimmer, Jochen
    Abstract: The paper looks at the determinants of fiscal adjustments as reflected in the primary surplus of countries. Our conjecture is that governments will usually find it more attractive to pursue fiscal adjustments in a situation of relatively high growth, but based on a simple stylized model of government behavior the expectation is that mainly high trust governments will be in a position to defer consolidation to years with higher growth. Overall, our analysis of a panel of European countries provides support for this expectation. The difference in fiscal policies depending on government trust levels may help explaining why better governed countries have been found to have less severe business cycles. It suggests that trust and credibility play an important role not only in monetary policy, but also in fiscal policy.
    JEL: H62 E62 H60
    Date: 2014
  8. By: Kölle, Felix; Gächter, Simon; Quercia, Simone
    Abstract: We study the nature of cooperation in the provision of public goods (a "Give" game) and the appropriation of a common resource (a "Take" game). We introduce the "abc-framework" to analyze how cooperative attitudes and beliefs determine cooperation. Our experimental results establish that Give and Take dilemmas are different games even under equivalent incentives. We find striking differences in attitudes: people are substantially less likely to cooperate conditionally in Take than Give. Our experiments and simulations show that attitudes and beliefs, rather than "framing effects", can explain the variation of cooperation observed in the literature. Our results also suggest that cooperation is harder in commons problems than in the provision of public goods.
    JEL: C92 H41 D03
    Date: 2014
  9. By: Schröder, Melanie; Schmitt, Norma; Mantei, Britta; Brünn, Claudia
    Abstract: We investigate the determinants of couples labor supply within an experimental setting. On the one hand, we are interested in the e ect of taxes on couples labor supply, but on the other hand we focus on factors beyond purely economic incentives: the role of the social norm of a male breadwinner. 58 established cohabiting heterosexual and married couples (116 participants) perform under a piece rate payment on real e ort tasks (i.e. solving mazes) within a given time and with work e ort (i.e. number of solved mazes) serving as our proxy for labor supply. We demonstrate that gender identity and (dis)satisfaction with income opportunities dominated the e ects of taxation within a couple context.
    JEL: D13 C93 J16
    Date: 2014
  10. By: Slivko, Olga
    Abstract: On Wikipedia, the largest online encyclopedia, editors who contribute to the same articles and exchange comments on articles' talk pages work in collaborative manner engaging in communication about their work. Thus they can be considered as peers who are likely to influence each other. In this article, I examine whether the activity of these peers, measured by the average amount of peer contributions or by the number of peers, yields spillovers to the amount of individual contributions. The partially overlapping group structure allows to identify peer effects and to use the number of the indirect peers as an instrument for the activity and the number of direct peers. The results show that, while controlling for observable editor and peer characteristics, an increase in the monthly average peer contribution by 1 per cent increases the amount of individual monthly contributions to Wikipedia (among individuals that contribute to Wikipedia every month) by about 0.44 per cent. Similarly, spillovers coming from the number of peers yield a positive effect of 0.17 per cent per article to 0.05 per cent for overall monthly contributions to Wikipedia.
    Keywords: peer effects,user-generated content,Wikipedia,network of editors,direct and indirect peers
    JEL: I23 J31 Z13
    Date: 2014
  11. By: Schmutzler, Armin; Holger, Herz; André, Volk
    Abstract: We study the economic consequences of opportunities for dishonesty in an environment where efficiency relevant behaviour is not contractible, but rather incentivized by informal agreements in an ongoing relationship. We document the repeated interaction between a principal and an agent who, within our main treatment, was privately informed about the costs of effort provision being either high or low. At the beginning of the interaction, an agent could either truthfully report the cost type to the principal or choose to lie about it. We find that a substantial fraction of low cost agents decided to signal high costs. Dishonest low cost and honest high cost agents pool on the complete information outcome with high costs, as measured in our control treatment. The outcome of such pooling is less efficient than for honest low cost agents. Moreover, principals who face dishonest agents earn substantially less profits than those facing honest agents. Our evidence therefore suggests that informal agreements in a repeated interaction generate less efficient outcomes if dishonesty is possible but, at the same time, are robust to substantial degrees of deception. We furthermore show that our experimental findings can be organized using the logic of repeated games.
    JEL: C73 D23 D82
    Date: 2014

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