nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2015‒05‒09
seven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Redistribution and Group Participation: Comparative Experimental Evidence from Africa and the UK By Marcel Fafchamps; Ruth Vargas Hill
  2. Job loss and social capital: the role of family, friends and wider support networks By Gush, Karon; Scott, James; Laurie, Heather
  3. Cultural Norms and Identity in Coordination Games By Jo Laban Peryman; David Kelsey
  4. Boundedly Rational Opinion Dynamics in Social Networks: Does Indegree Matter? By Pietro Battiston; Luca Stanca
  5. Running head: Cooperation, competition and group decision-making By Claudia Toma; Fabrizio Butera
  6. Networks and Manufacturing Firms in Africa: Results from a Randomized Field Experiment By Marcel Fafchamps; Simon R. Quinn
  7. Social capital and views on suicide via the internet: a study using survey data By Yamamura, Eiji

  1. By: Marcel Fafchamps; Ruth Vargas Hill
    Abstract: We design an original laboratory experiment to investigate whether redistributive actions hinder the formation of Pareto-improving groups. We test, in an anonymous setting with no feedback, whether people choose to destroy or steal the endowment of others and whether they choose to give to others, when granted the option. We then test whether subjects join a group that increases their endowment but exposes them to redistribution. We conduct the experiment in three very different settings with a priori different norms of pro-social behavior: a university town in the UK, the largest urban slum in Kenya, and rural Uganda. We find a lot of commonality but also large differences between sites. UK subjects behave in a more selfish and strategic way -- giving less, stealing more. Kenyan and Ugandan subjects behave in a more altruistic and less strategic manner. However, pro-social norms are not always predictive of joining behavior. African subjects are less likely to join a group when destruction or stealing is permitted. It is as if they are less trusting even though they are more trustworthy. These findings contradict the view that African current underdevelopment is due to a failure of generalized morality.
    JEL: D03 O17
    Date: 2015–04
  2. By: Gush, Karon; Scott, James; Laurie, Heather
    Abstract: Finding a new job is not the only problem the unemployed face. How to manage the loss of income, status and identity can also be a serious consideration for those in between jobs. In-depth qualitative interviews reveal that family, friends and wider networks are important mainstays in helping jobseekers back into work but in different ways and for a variety of reasons. By examining the job seeking strategies in terms of drawing on (a) family connections and (b) friends and wider social networks this investigation sheds some light on the extent to which social connectedness matters for jobseekers in contemporary Britain.
    Date: 2015–04–28
  3. By: Jo Laban Peryman (RMIT University, Melbourne); David Kelsey (Department of Economics, University of Exeter)
    Abstract: We run experiments with a stag hunt and bargaining coordination game. Using a between-subjects design, we vary the identity of the opponent between someone of the same culture or a different culture. The idea is to see whether cultural norms or identity play a part in coordination decisions. We compare the responses of British and Asian students at the University of Exeter and show the cultural identity of the opponent by physical appearance. The players appear to use cultural stereotypes to predict behaviour, especially in the bargaining game which may require more strategic thought than the stag hunt game. In particular, the British act in way that indicates they believe the Asians will behave more cautiously than other British. According to our results, the stereotype of Asians being cautious is misleading.
    Keywords: culture,identity, norms, coordination, bargaining
    JEL: C29 C71 C72 Z13
    Date: 2015
  4. By: Pietro Battiston; Luca Stanca
    Abstract: This paper investigates opinion dynamics and social in uence in directed communication networks. We study the theoretical properties of a boundedly rational model of opinion formation in which individuals aggregate the information they receive from their neighbors by using weights that are a function of neighbors' indegree. We then present the results of a laboratory experiment explicitly designed to test the causal effect of indegree on social in uence. We find that the social influence of an agent is positively affected by the number of individuals she listens to. When forming their opinions, agents take into account the structure of their communication network, although only to a limited extent.
    Keywords: Social Networks, Learning, Social Influence, Bounded Rationality
    Date: 2015–04–24
  5. By: Claudia Toma; Fabrizio Butera
    Abstract: Information processing in groups has long been seen as a cooperative process. In contrast with this assumption, group members were rarely found to behave cooperatively: They withhold unshared information and stick to initial incorrect decisions. In the present article, we examined how group members’ cooperative and competitive motives impact on group information processing and propose that information sharing and use in groups could be seen as strategic behaviour. We reviewed the latest developments in the literature investigating different forms of strategic information processing and their underlying mechanisms. This review suggests that explicit cooperative goals are needed for effective group decisionmaking.
    Keywords: coinformation sharing; information processing; strategic behavior; cooperation; social motives
    Date: 2015–04–28
  6. By: Marcel Fafchamps; Simon R. Quinn
    Abstract: We run a novel field experiment to link managers of African manufacturing firms. The experiment features exogenous link formation, exogenous seeding of information, and exogenous assignment to treatment and placebo. We study the impact of the experiment on firm business practices outside of the lab. We find that the experiment successfully created new variation in social networks. We find significant diffusion of business practices only in terms of VAT registration and having a bank current account. This diffusion is a combination of diffusion of innovation and simple imitation. At the time of our experiment, all three studied countries were undergoing large changes in their VAT legislation.
    JEL: D22 L26 O33
    Date: 2015–04
  7. By: Yamamura, Eiji
    Abstract: Based on data from surveys conducted in Japan, this paper attempts to examine the effect of social capital on individuals’ views about suicide as conveyed via the Internet. Furthermore, this paper compared the effects of social capital accumulated in respondents’ residential areas at 15 years of age and in current residential areas. Empirical results show that 15-year-old individuals residing in areas with high social capital are unlikely to understand why people would search the Internet for a companion with whom to commit suicide. However, such a relation is not observed between social capital in the current residential area and views on suicide. This indicates that interpersonal relationships in childhood reduce the externality of suicidal thoughts conveyed via the Internet.
    Keywords: Views on suicide; Social capital; Childhood; Internet; Externality.
    JEL: I18 I31 Z13 Z18
    Date: 2015–04–26

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