nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2015‒08‒19
fourteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Keeping up with the e-Joneses: Do online social networks raise social comparisons? By Sabatini, Fabio; Sarracino, Francesco
  2. Merchant Guilds, Taxation and Social Capital By Dessi, Roberta; Piccolo, Salvatore
  3. Do Social Networks Improve Chinese Adults' Subjective Well-being? By Lei, Xiaoyan; Shen, Yan; Smith, James P.; Zhou, Guangsu
  4. Culture and Institutions By Alesina, Alberto; Giuliano, Paola
  5. Self-help groups, savings and social capital : evidence from a field experiment in Cambodia By Ban,Radu; Gilligan,Michael J.; Rieger,Matthias
  6. Competition vs. communication: An experimental study on restoring trust By Vivian Lei; David Masclet; Filip Vesely
  7. Conditional Cooperation and Betrayal Aversion By Cubitt, Robin; Gächter, Simon; Quercia, Simone
  8. Social Interactions, Mechanisms, and Equilibrium: Evidence from a Model of Study Time and Academic Achievement By Timothy Conley; Nirav Mehta; Ralph Stinebrickner; Todd Stinebrickner
  9. Preferences-dependent learning in the Centipede game By Astrid Gamba; Tobias Regner
  10. Social connectedness improves co-ordination on individually costly, efficient outcomes By Attanasi, Giuseppe; Hopfensitz, Astrid; Lorini, Emiliano; Moisan, Frédéric
  11. Trusting Former Rebels: An Experimental Approach to Understanding Reintegration after Civil War By Goone Beekman; Stephen Cheung; Ian Levely
  12. Reputation and social (dis)approval in feedback mechanisms: An experimental study By Marianne Lumeau; David Masclet; Thierry Penard
  13. Giving in France: A Philanthropic Renewal after Decades of Distrust By Arthur Gautier; Anne-Claire Pache; Valérie Mossel
  14. Moral Capital in the Twenty-First Century By Acs, Zoltan J.

  1. By: Sabatini, Fabio; Sarracino, Francesco
    Abstract: Online social networks such as Facebook disclose an unprecedented volume of personal information amplifying the occasions for social comparisons. We test the hypothesis that the use of social networking sites (SNS) increases people’s dissatisfaction with their income. After addressing endogeneity issues, our results suggest that SNS users have a higher probability to compare their achievements with those of others. This effect seems stronger than the one exerted by TV watching, it is particularly strong for younger people, and it affects men and women in a similar way.
    Keywords: social networks; social networking sites; social comparisons; satisfaction with income; relative deprivation.
    JEL: D3 D31 O33 Z13
    Date: 2015–07–31
  2. By: Dessi, Roberta; Piccolo, Salvatore
    Abstract: We develop a theory of the emergence of merchant guilds as an efficient mechanism to foster cooperation between merchants and rulers, building on the complementarity between merchant guilds’ ability to enforce monopoly over trade and their social capital. Unlike existing models, we focus on local merchant guilds, rather than alien guilds, accounting for the main observed features of their behavior, internal organization and relationship with rulers. Our model delivers novel predictions about the emergence, variation, functioning, and eventual decline of this highly successful historical form of network. Our theory reconciles previous explanations and the large body of historical evidence on medieval merchant guilds. In doing so, we also shed novel light on the role of the guilds’ social capital, and its importance for taxation, welfare, and the development of towns and their government in medieval Europe.
    Keywords: Merchant guild, Social capital, collusion, Political economy, Trade, Taxation
    JEL: L20 L43 N7 N8
    Date: 2015–05
  3. By: Lei, Xiaoyan (Peking University); Shen, Yan (Peking University); Smith, James P. (RAND); Zhou, Guangsu (Peking University)
    Abstract: This paper studies relationships between social networks, health and subjective well-being (SWB) using nationally representative data of the Chinese Population – the Chinese Family Panel Studies (CFPS). Our data contain SWB indicators in two widely used variants – happiness and life-satisfaction. Social network variables used include kinship relationships measured by marital status, family size, and having a genealogy; ties with friends/relatives/neighbors measured by holiday visitation, frequency of contacts, and whether and value gifts given and received; total number and time spent in social activities, and engagement in organizations including the communist party, religious groups, and other types. We find that giving and receiving gifts has a larger impact on SWB than either just giving or receiving them. Similarly the number of friends is more important than number of relatives, and marriage is associated with higher levels of SWB. Time spent in social activities and varieties of activities both matter for SWB but varieties matters more. Participation in organization is associated with higher SWB across such diverse groups as being a member of the communist party or a religious organization. China represents an interesting test since it is simultaneously a traditional society with long-established norms about appropriate social networks and a rapidly changing society due to substantial economic and demographic changes. We find that it is better to both give and receive, to engage in more types of social activities, and that participation in groups all improves well-being of Chinese people.
    Keywords: China, social networks, subjective well-being
    JEL: O10 O53
    Date: 2015–07
  4. By: Alesina, Alberto (Harvard University); Giuliano, Paola (University of California, Los Angeles)
    Abstract: A growing body of empirical work measuring different types of cultural traits has shown that culture matters for a variety of economic outcomes. This paper focuses on one specific aspect of the relevance of culture: its relationship to institutions. We review work with a theoretical, empirical, and historical bent to assess the presence of a two-way causal effect between culture and institutions.
    Keywords: culture, institutions
    JEL: P16 Z1
    Date: 2015–08
  5. By: Ban,Radu; Gilligan,Michael J.; Rieger,Matthias
    Abstract: This paper studies how self-help groups?village-based organizations designed to encourage savings, household production and social cohesion among the poor?can promote economic and social capital. The paper uses survey data and a wide array of social capital measures to assess the impact of a pilot program that was randomly rolled out in rural villages in Cambodia. The study finds that the program encouraged savings and associations via self-help groups. However it did not improve social capital measured by household and network surveys and lab activities that gauge trust, trustworthiness and the willingness to contribute to public goods. The findings contradict recent work that has found significant positive impacts of such groups on social capital. This paper evaluates community-wide impacts while most previous studies focus on program participants. In addition, the empirical strategy is based on a broader array of social capital measures, including behavioral indicators, suggesting that finding impacts of such programs on social capital is sensitive to the measurement strategy.
    Date: 2015–07–29
  6. By: Vivian Lei (Department of Economics - University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee); David Masclet (CIRANO - Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisations - UQAM - Université du Québec à Montréal, CREM - Centre de Recherche en Economie et Management - CNRS - Université de Caen Basse-Normandie - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1); Filip Vesely (Department of Economics - University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
    Abstract: Trust is fragile. It is hard to build but easy to destroy. In this paper, we explore the fragility of trust in a stylized laboratory environment. We ask whether transgression outside a direct send-and-return relationship destroys trust and, if so, whether a competition against outsiders or an apology for misdeeds helps restore it. We find that transgression significantly reduces trust and that the broken trust can be greatly restored by group competition. Communication via an apology, impersonal or not, has an insignificant impact. By contrast, offering explanations for misbehavior is as effective as group competition.
    Date: 2014–12
  7. By: Cubitt, Robin (University of Nottingham); Gächter, Simon (University of Nottingham); Quercia, Simone (University of Bonn)
    Abstract: We investigate whether there is a link between conditional cooperation and betrayal aversion. We use a public goods game to classify subjects by type of contribution preference and by belief about the contributions of others; and we measure betrayal aversion for different categories of subject. We find that, among conditional cooperators, only those who expect others to contribute little to the public good are significantly betrayal averse, while there is no evidence of betrayal aversion for those who expect substantial contributions by others. This is consistent with their social risk taking in public goods games, as the pessimistic conditional cooperators tend to avoid contribution to avoid exploitation, whereas the optimistic ones typically contribute to the public good and thus take the social risk of being exploited.
    Keywords: exploitation aversion, betrayal aversion, trust, conditional cooperation, public goods game, free riding, experiments
    JEL: H41 C91 C72 D03
    Date: 2015–07
  8. By: Timothy Conley; Nirav Mehta; Ralph Stinebrickner; Todd Stinebrickner
    Abstract: We develop and estimate an equilibrium model of study time choices of students on a social network. We examine how network structure interacts with student characteristics to affect academic achievement. Due to data limitations, few papers examine the mechanisms through which peer effects operate. The model is designed to exploit unique data collected in the Berea Panel Study. Study time data allow us to quantify an intuitive mechanism for social interactions: the cost of own study time may depend on friend study time. Social network data allow study time choices and resulting academic achievement to be embedded in an equilibrium framework. We find friend study time strongly affects own study time, and, therefore, student achievement. Not taking into account equilibrium behavior would drastically understate the effect of peers. Sorting on friend characteristics appears important in explaining variation across students in study time and achievement, and determines the aggregate achievement level.
    JEL: H0 I20 J0
    Date: 2015–07
  9. By: Astrid Gamba (University of Milan-Bicocca, Milan, Italy); Tobias Regner (School of Economics and Business Administration, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena)
    Abstract: We study experimentally whether heterogeneity of behavior in the Centipede game can be interpreted as the result of a learning process of individuals with different preference types (more and less pro-social) and coarse information regarding the opponent's past behavior. We manipulate the quality of information feedbacks provided after each play. If subjects rely only on their personal database, long run behavior resembles a Self-confirming equilibrium whereby less pro-social types take at earlier nodes due to prediction errors. Aggregate information release decreases heterogeneity of behavior by increasing the passing rates of pro-selfs and play moves towards Bayesian Nash equilibrium.
    Keywords: social preferences, learning, Self-confirming equilibrium, experiment
    JEL: C71 C73 C91 D83
    Date: 2015–08–06
  10. By: Attanasi, Giuseppe; Hopfensitz, Astrid; Lorini, Emiliano; Moisan, Frédéric
    Keywords: Social ties, Group identity, Coordination, Experiment
    JEL: C72 C91 C92
    Date: 2015–05
  11. By: Goone Beekman (Wageningen University, Development Economics Group, P.O. Box 8130, 6700 EW Wageningen, Netherlands); Stephen Cheung (The University of Sydney, School of Economics, Merewether Building H04, Sydney NSW 2006, Australia); Ian Levely (Institute of Economic Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague, Smetanovo nábreží 6, 111 01 Prague 1, Czech Republic)
    Abstract: We study cooperation within and between groups in the laboratory, comparing treatments in which two groups have previously been (i) in conflict with one another, (ii) in conflict with a different group, or (iii) not previously exposed to con flict. We model conflict using an inter-group Tullock contest, and measure its effects upon cooperation using a multi-level public good game. We demonstrate that con flict increases cooperation within groups, while decreasing cooperation between groups. Moreover, we find that cooperation between groups increases in response to an increase in the effciency gains from cooperation only when the two groups have not previously interacted.
    Keywords: within- and between-group cooperation; inter-group confl ict; group identity; multi-level public good experiment; Tullock contest; other-regarding preferences
    JEL: C92 D64 D74 H41
    Date: 2015–06
  12. By: Marianne Lumeau (CEPN - Centre d'Economie de l'Université Paris Nord - Université Paris 13 - Université Sorbonne Paris Cité (USPC) - CNRS, CREM - Centre de Recherche en Economie et Management - CNRS - Université de Caen Basse-Normandie - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1); David Masclet (CIRANO - Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisations - UQAM - Université du Québec à Montréal, CREM - Centre de Recherche en Economie et Management - CNRS - Université de Caen Basse-Normandie - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1); Thierry Penard (CREM - Centre de Recherche en Economie et Management - CNRS - Université de Caen Basse-Normandie - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1)
    Abstract: Several previous studies have highlighted the role of feedback mechanisms in the success of electronic marketplaces. This paper contends that the effectiveness of online feedback mechanisms passes through two channels, namely a ‘reputational’ effect that has been largely documented in the literature, but also a ‘(dis)approval’ effect that has received less attention. We attempt to isolate these two effects using an experimental approach. For this purpose, we compare two experimental feedback systems that differ in the set of information available to participants. In the first feedback system, each player can observe the feedback profile of the other party, whereas in the second feedback system, this information is private. Our findings indicate that both systems improve cooperation. However, we observe that private feedback is less efficient in enhancing trust and trustworthiness than systems in which rating profiles are observed by partners. This finding is due to both a reduction of the number of assigned ratings and a lower impact of private ratings on subsequent decisions. All these results suggest that even if social (dis)approval matters, rating observability–and thus reputation–remains critical to induce honest behavior and improve efficiency in markets characterized by imperfect information.
    Date: 2015–04
  13. By: Arthur Gautier (Chaire entrepreneuriat social - Essec Business School); Anne-Claire Pache (Public and Private Policy Department - Essec Business School); Valérie Mossel (Rotterdam School of Management - Erasmus university)
    Abstract: In this paper, we provide an outline of the philanthropic landscape in France and analyze the results of a 2009 survey of 4,612 French households about their giving patterns. In the first part, we synthesize knowledge on the history of philanthropy in France, its size and scope, government policy and regulation as well as elements of cultural context. In the second part of the paper, we present a quantitative analysis of recent giving survey data in France, highlighting several determinants on the likelihood to give and the amount donated. Trust towards others, religious beliefs, secondary education, old age and home ownership seem to be the strongest determinants for giving in France. This chapter will be part of the forthcoming Palgrave Research Companion to Global Philanthropy, edited by Pamala Wiepking and Femida Handy.
    Date: 2013–12–06
  14. By: Acs, Zoltan J. (London School of Economics)
    Abstract: This paper recasts Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century in light of Acs’ Why Philanthropy Matters: How the Wealthy Give and What It Means for Our Economic Well-Being. Philanthropy matters in this debate because, as moral capital, philanthropy offers an alternative solution to the Piketty conundrum, and it does so without relying exclusively on a wealth tax and government intervention. Moral capital over the centuries strengthened both capitalism and democracy by investing in opportunity (slavery, suffrage and civil rights), which in turn leads to long-term economic growth and greater equality. By focusing on university research—which is critical in promoting technological innovation, economic equality, and economic security—that creates a large, well-functioning middle class (The Economist, March 2015), moral capital represents the missing link in the theory of capitalism development.
    Keywords: philanthropy; competition; education; opportunity; entrepreneurship; innovation; inequality; Piketty
    JEL: J24 L26 O20 P16
    Date: 2015–08–10

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