nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2015‒03‒22
seventeen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Making Democracy Work: The Effects of Social Capital and Elections on Public Goods in China By Nancy Qian
  2. The Relationship Between Social Capital And Health In China By Xindong Xue; W. Robert Reed
  3. Social inclusion and altruism: empirical evidence from juvenile rehabilitation in Italy By Martina Menon; Federico Perali; Marcella Veronesi
  4. Social capital and access to primary health care in developing countries: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa By Guillaume Hollard; Omar Sene
  5. Some Challenges in the Empirics of the Effects of Networks By Boucher, Vincent; Fortin, Bernard
  6. The role of proximity and social comparisons on subjective well-being By Elena Bárcena-Martín; Cortés Aguilar Alexandra; Ana I. Moro Egido
  7. Social interactions in voting behavior: distinguishing between strategic voting and the bandwagon effect By Evrenk, Haldun; Sher, Chien-Yuan
  8. The Impact of Values, Gender and Education on Creative Behaviour in Different Domains in Russian Regions By Nadezhda Lebedeva; Ekaterina Bushina
  9. Treasure Hunt: Social Learning in the Field By Mobius, Markus; Phan, Tuan; Szeidl, Adam
  10. Providing global public goods: Electoral delegation and cooperation By Martin G. Kocher; Fangfang Tan; Jing Yu
  11. Gender Effects, Culture and Social Influence in the Dictator Game: An Italian Study By O'Higgins, Niall; Palomba, Arturo; Sbriglia, Patrizia
  12. Do Taxes Crowd Out Intrinsic Motivation? Field-Experimental Evidence from Germany By Pierre C. Boyer; Nadja Dwenger; Johannes Rincke
  13. Network Structure and Education Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Bangladesh By Hahn, Youjin; Islam, Asadul; Patacchini, Eleonora; Zenou, Yves
  14. Quasi-Free Goods and Social Norms: The Effects of Quantity Restrictions and Scrutiny By Avi Weiss; Shlomi Boshi; Moshik Lavie
  15. Spatial vs. Social Network Effects in Risk Sharing By Aida, Takeshi
  16. Court-ship, Kinship and Business: A Study on the Interaction between the Formal and the Informal Institutions and Its Effect on Entrepreneurship By Chakraborty, Tanika; Mukherjee, Anirban; Saha, Sarani
  17. Communication and Trust in Principal-Team Relationships: Experimental Evidence By Marco Kleine; Sebastian Kube

  1. By: Nancy Qian (Yale University)
    Abstract: This study investigates the extent to which pre-existing social (civic) capital interacts with village elections in determining government provision of local public goods. We collect a unique survey to document the presence of voluntary and social organizations and the history of electoral reforms in China. We exploit the staggered timing in the introduction of elections to estimate the interaction eect of the introduction of village elections and social capital on government-provided public goods. The results show that social capital signicantly enhances the eect of elections. We rule out alternative explanations and provide suggestive evidence for the mechanisms driving our results.
    Date: 2014
  2. By: Xindong Xue; W. Robert Reed (University of Canterbury)
    Abstract: This paper uses the 2005 and 2006 China General Social Survey (CGSS) to study the relationship between social capital and health in China. Using four separate samples totalling over 18,000 respondents and some methodological innovations that are new to the social capital literature, we identify social trust, social relationships, and social networks as robust correlates of self-reported health. The estimated sizes of the social capital effects are economically important, being of the same order of magnitude as those associated with age and income. We are unable to find evidence that social participation is related to self-reported health. Further, while women generally report poorer health than men, we find no evidence of gender differences in the social capital-health relationship.
    Keywords: Social capital, trust, self-reported health, China, ordered logistic regression, heteroskedastic ordered logistic regression, interaction effects.
    JEL: I1 O53 C25
    Date: 2015–03–09
  3. By: Martina Menon; Federico Perali; Marcella Veronesi
    Abstract: Social inclusion is a multidimensional phenomenon that involves social, political, and economic aspects of individuals' life. While social inclusion is a priority of the European Agenda 2020, little is known about individuals' preferences for social inclusion and its relationship with altruism. We exploit the marked cultural and socio-economic differences between North and South of Italy to investigate the relationship between people's preferences for the social inclusion of juvenile offenders and parental and non-parental altruism using a unique and large household survey. Between North and South of Italy, we do not find policy relevant differences in terms of social inclusion but, interestingly, we find that the altruistic motives are significantly different.
    Keywords: Social inclusion, altruism, juvenile crime, rehabilitation.
    JEL: D61 D63 D64
    Date: 2015
  4. By: Guillaume Hollard; Omar Sene
    Abstract: We test the causal role of social capital, as measured by self-reported trust, in determining access to basic health facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa. To skirt reverse-causality problems between social capital and basic health, we rely on instrumental variable (IV) estimates. The results show that a one standard deviation increase in the level of localized trust leads to a 0.221 standard deviation decrease in the predicted value of doctor absenteeism, a 0.307 standard deviation decreases in the predicted value of waiting time and a 0.301 standard deviation decreases in the predicted value of bribes. As a robustness check, we also use a different database regarding a different health issue, namely access to clean water. We find that a one standard deviation increase in the level of localized trust leads to a 0.330 standard deviation increase in the access on clean water. All in all, social capital is found to have an important causal effect on health, even stronger that the one found in western countries.
    Keywords: Social Capital, Health, Africa, Causality.
    JEL: I15 I12 D71 I18 H41
    Date: 2015
  5. By: Boucher, Vincent (Université Laval); Fortin, Bernard (Université Laval)
    Abstract: We study some recent developments and challenges in the empirics of the effects of social networks. We focus in particular on researchers' ability to make policy recommendations based on a standard linear econometric model. We examine the potential compatibility between this type of econometric model and a microeconomic theoretical approach based on fundamentals, such as preferences, technology and decision processes. We discuss sources of identification for the social multiplier as well as for the identity of the key player. We study the possibility of testing endogeneity in network formation. We analyse the use of proxy variables and their impact for the causal interpretation of the peer effect coefficients. Our analysis suggests that greater care should be taken in grounding econometric network models to sound and credible theoretical underpinnings.
    Keywords: social networks, social multiplier, network formation, identification, proxy variables, policy analysis
    JEL: A14 C33 C36 D85 Z13
    Date: 2015–02
  6. By: Elena Bárcena-Martín (Dpto. Estadística y Econometría, University of Málaga.); Cortés Aguilar Alexandra (Escuela de Economía y Administración, Universidad Industrial de Santander.); Ana I. Moro Egido (Department of Economic Theory and Economic History, University of Granada.)
    Abstract: Using the German Socio-Economic Panel, we analyze the importance of modeling social comparisons to determine their effect on subjective well-being. The first contribution is the consideration of social comparison measures, which assume that individuals compare themselves to each and all the other individuals along the income distribution and where proximity is a crucial issue in the comparisons. The second contribution is the inclusion of social contacts and values as an influence on the effect of social comparisons on subjective well-being. Interestingly, our results confirm that individuals’ subjective wellbeing is affected by their comparisons with others above and below themselves in the distribution, and the relevant role of proximity. Additionally, we conclude that social and cultural capital modify the effect of social comparisons and proximity on subjective well-being.
    Date: 2013–10–22
  7. By: Evrenk, Haldun; Sher, Chien-Yuan
    Abstract: Prior studies of strategic voting in multi-party elections potentially overestimate the extent of it by counting erroneously votes cast under different motivations as strategic votes. We propose a method that corrects some of this overestimation by distinguishing between strategic voting (voting for a candidate other than the most preferred one to reduce the likelihood of an election victory by a third candidate that is disliked even more) and the votes cast under the ‘bandwagon effect’ (voting for the expected winner instead of the most preferred party to conform to the majority or to be on the winning side). Our method follows from the observation that a vote cannot be strategic unless the voter believes that it will affect the outcome of the election with a non-zero probability, while a vote cast under the bandwagon effect requires no such belief. Employing survey data that include the respondent’s assessment of the importance of his vote, we illustrate this method by estimating the extent of strategic voting in the 2005 UK general election. The estimated extent of strategic voting (4.22%) is strictly less than self-reported strategic voting (6.94%), but the discrepancy cannot be attributed in a statistically significant way to the bandwagon effect, suggesting that motivations other than those identified in the literature may be at work.
    Keywords: voting behavior, social interactions, strategic voting, bandwagon effects, multi-party competition.
    JEL: D71 D72 D84
    Date: 2015–01–01
  8. By: Nadezhda Lebedeva (National Research University Higher School of Economics); Ekaterina Bushina (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
    Abstract: This paper presents results of the research into different types of creative behaviour and their predictors in the Central and North-Caucasus federal districts of Russia (N=2046). The revised PVQ-R questionnaire of Schwartz for values measurement and the modified Creative Behaviour Inventory (CBI) of Dollinger for creative behaviour measurement were used. The model with five different domains of creative behaviour: visual art, literature, craft, performance, organizational creativity and generalized creativity was confirmed in a simultaneous CFA in both regions. This model with values, gender and level of education as predictors was tested using structural equation modelling with AMOS 19.0. Values, education and gender influence creative behaviour in different domains. The value of Openness to Change positively, and the value of Conservation negatively influence creative behaviour in different domains in both the regions. The impacts of gender and education on creativity have domain and regional specifics: craft is a ‘female’ domain of creativity whereas organizational creativity is a ‘male’ one; higher education promotes organizational and visual creativity in both regions and literature creativity in the North Caucasus
    Keywords: creativity, domains of creativity, values, gender, education
    JEL: Z
    Date: 2015
  9. By: Mobius, Markus; Phan, Tuan; Szeidl, Adam
    Abstract: We seed noisy information to members of a real-world social network to study how information diffusion and information aggregation jointly shape social learning. Our environment features substantial social learning. We show that learning occurs via diffusion which is highly imperfect: signals travel only up to two steps in the conversation network and indirect signals are transmitted noisily. We then compare two theories of information aggregation: a naive model in which people double-count signals that reach them through multiple paths, and a sophisticated model in which people avoid double-counting by tagging the source of information. We show that to distinguish between these models of aggregation, it is critical to explicitly account for imperfect diffusion. When we do so, we find that our data are most consistent with the sophisticated tagged model.
    Keywords: information aggregation; information diffusion; networks; social learning
    JEL: C91 C93 D83
    Date: 2015–03
  10. By: Martin G. Kocher; Fangfang 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 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 selfish benchmark. This pattern is not driven by delegates trying to exploit their fellow group members, as indicated by theory – quite to the opposite, other-regarding preferences and a re-election incentives guarantee that delegates assign equal contributions for all group members. It is driven by conditional cooperation of delegates across groups. 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: 2014–07
  11. By: O'Higgins, Niall (University of Salerno); Palomba, Arturo (University of Naples II); Sbriglia, Patrizia (University of Naples II)
    Abstract: There is little consensus on whether women are more generous than men; some research results indicate a higher propensity towards giving of female dictators, whilst others suggest the opposite. Two explanations have been put forward. According to the first one, women are more generous than men and the conflicting results are due to the way preferences are elicited (Eckel and Grossman, 2002), since women are more sensitive to "social cues" and their preferences are more "malleable" (Croson and Gneezy, 2009). According to the second one, the institutional culture and the role women have in society are key elements in shaping gender differences in preferences. In fact, in matrilineal societies (Gong et al.; 2014; Gneezy et al.; 2009), women are self-oriented, more competitive and less generous than men, since they have an important role as economic decision makers in the family and the society. We test these alternative hypotheses running Dictators experiments in Italy, a western country with a matrilineal culture, introducing – at the same time - social influence in the design. We find more support to the hypothesis on the cultural role in shaping preferences, rather than the effects of social influence.
    Keywords: social influence, gender, social preferences, experiments, dictator game
    JEL: C90 C91 D03 J16
    Date: 2015–02
  12. By: Pierre C. Boyer; Nadja Dwenger; Johannes Rincke
    Abstract: This paper studies how imposing norms on contribution behavior affects individuals' intrinsic motivation. We consider an urban area in Germany where the Catholic Church collects a local church levy as a charitable donation, despite the fact that the levy is legally a tax. In cooperation with the church, we design a natural randomized field experiment with letter treatments informing individuals that the church levy is in fact a tax. Guided by a simple theoretical model, we use baseline contribution behavior to measure individuals' intrinsic motivation and demonstrate that treatment effects differ strongly across motivational types. Among weakly intrinsically motivated individuals, communicating the existence of a legal norm results in a significant crowd-out of intrinsic motivation. In contrast, strongly intrinsically motivated individuals do not show any treatment response. We cross-validate our findings using alternative motivational measures derived from an extensive post-treatment survey.
    Keywords: intrinsic motivation, crowding out, charitable giving, taxes, public goods, natural randomized field experiment
    JEL: C93 D03 H26 H41
    Date: 2014–12
  13. By: Hahn, Youjin (Monash University); Islam, Asadul (Monash University); Patacchini, Eleonora (Cornell University); Zenou, Yves (Stockholm University)
    Abstract: We study the causal impact of network centrality on educational outcomes using field experiments in primary schools in Bangladesh. After obtaining information on friendship networks, we randomly allocate students into groups and give them individual and group assignments. We find that groups that perform best are those whose members have high Katz-Bonacich and key-player centralities. Leaders are mostly responsible for this effect, while bad apples have little influence. Own Katz-Bonacich centrality is associated with better individual performance only if it is above the average centrality of the group. Further experiments reveal that leadership, as measured by network centrality, mainly captures non-cognitive skills, especially patience and competitiveness.
    Keywords: social networks, centrality measures, leaders, soft skills
    JEL: A14 C93 D01 I20
    Date: 2015–02
  14. By: Avi Weiss (Bar-Ilan University); Shlomi Boshi; Moshik Lavie
    Abstract: In this paper we consider the effect of quantity restrictions and scrutiny on the consumption of quasi-free goods. A good is quasi-free if it is zero priced, but it is consumed in the context of a social setting (e.g., as an employee, client, friend, etc.). Examples include cookies at a picnic, candies in a doctor's office, and perks offered to workers such as free soft drinks. Casual observation, including initial experience with unlimited vacation policies by some major companies (Evernote, IBM, Bestbuy), suggests that placing limitations on consumption can lead to an increase in the level of consumption of such goods, while removing existing limitations (as in the case of vacations) may result in a decrease in consumption. We attribute this to the consumer's perceptions about the social norm and how this perception is affected by the presence of a quantity restriction. In this paper we develop a simple model of quasi-free goods consumption showing the effect of a quantity restriction and of observability of the consumer's actions, and then test the model in a field experiment. The results clearly show that allowing unlimited consumption leads to less consumption, however, such behavior all but disappears when the subjects' choices are unobserved, including by the experimenter. This suggests that consumers are more concerned with how they are perceived by others than with self-image concerns.
    Date: 2015–03
  15. By: Aida, Takeshi
    Abstract: Although substantial research has been conducted on informal consumption smoothing mechanisms within villages, or within social clusters such as family and friends, few studies have compared the effects of these spatial and social networks. Employing spatial panel econometric models, this study extends the conventional empirical test of the full risk-sharing hypothesis to incorporate spatial and social network effects, and quantifies the diffusion of income shocks in each network. Estimation results based on household survey data in Southern Sri Lanka show that consumption smoothing performs better in spatial networks than in social ones, because income shocks defuse more effectively among neighboring households. This study also shows the limitations of the conventional test when it is considered a special case of a spatial econometric model.
    Keywords: risk sharing , network , kinship , spillover effect
    Date: 2015–03–09
  16. By: Chakraborty, Tanika (Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur); Mukherjee, Anirban (University of Calcutta); Saha, Sarani (Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur)
    Abstract: In this paper we theoretically and empirically examine how the interaction between the formal court system and the informal loan network affects a household's decision to start a business. We find that when the formal court system is weak, expansion of informal credit network leads to the proliferation of business. However, with a sufficiently strong court system, expansion of credit network has a negative effect on business prospects. This result is explained by the contradictions between formal laws and norms used by informal networks. Our result remains robust after controlling for a variety of household and district level characteristics.
    Keywords: informal network, court, formal institution, entrepreneurship
    JEL: K12 L26 O17
    Date: 2015–02
  17. By: Marco Kleine (Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Munich); Sebastian Kube (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)
    Abstract: We study how upward communication – from workers to managers – about individual efforts affects the effectiveness of gift exchange as a contract-enforcement device for work teams. Our findings suggest that the use of such self-assessments can be detrimental to workers’ performance. In the controlled environment of a laboratory gift-exchange experiment, our workers regularly overstate their own contribution to the joint team output. Misreporting seems to spread distrust within the team of workers, as well as between managers and workers. This manifests itself in managers being less generous with workers’ payments, and in workers being more sensitive to the perceived kindness of their relative wage payments. By varying the source and degree of information about individual efforts between treatments, we see that precise knowledge about workers’ actual contributions to the team output is beneficial for the success of gift-exchange relationships. Yet, workers’ self-assessments can be a problematic tool to gather this information.
    JEL: J33 C92 M52
    Date: 2015–03

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