nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2015‒12‒28
thirteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. "Learned Generosity? A Field Experiment with Parents and their Children" By Avner Ben-Ner; John A. List; Louis Putterman; Anya Samek
  2. Understanding Conformity: An Experimental Investigation By B. Douglas Bernheim; Christine L. Exley
  3. The Political Legacy of Entertainment TV By Ruben Durante; Paolo Pinotti; Andrea Tesei
  4. Urban Networks: Connecting Markets, People, and Ideas By Edward L. Glaeser; Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto; Yimei Zou
  5. Social network and private provision of public goods By Bulat Sanditov; Saurabh Arora
  6. Mobile Messaging for Offline Social Interactions: a Large Field Experiment By Tianshu Sun; Guodong (Gordon) Gao; Ginger Zhe Jin
  7. Tax Morale and Trust in Public Institutions By Wilfried Anicet Kouamé
  8. Entry or Exit? The Effect of Voluntary Participation on Cooperation By Daniele Nosenzo; Fabio Tufano
  9. Lab Measures of Other-Regarding Preferences Can Predict Some Related on-the-Job Behavior: Evidence from a Large Scale Field Experiment By Stephen V. Burks; Daniele Nosenzo; Jon Anderson; Matthew Bombyk; Derek Ganzhorn; Lorenz Goette; Aldo Rustichini
  10. The Evolution of Culture and Institutions: Evidence from the Kuba Kingdom By Sara Lowes; Nathan Nunn; James A. Robinson; Jonathan Weigel
  11. Business Networks and Crisis Performance: Professional, Political, and Family Ties By Richard W. Carney; Travers Barclay Child
  12. Immigrants and Gender Roles: Assimilation vs. Culture By Francine D. Blau
  13. Who cares about your Facebook friends? Credit scoring for microfinance By DE CNUDDE, Sofie; MOEYERSOMS, Julie; STANKOVA, Marija; TOBBACK, Ellen; JAVALY, Vinayak; MARTENS, David

  1. By: Avner Ben-Ner; John A. List; Louis Putterman; Anya Samek
    Abstract: An active area of research within the social sciences concerns the underlying motivation for sharing scarce resources and engaging in other pro-social actions. We develop a theoretical framework that sheds light on the developmental origins of social preferences by providing mechanisms through which parents transmit preferences for generosity to their children. Then, we conduct a field experiment with nearly 150 3-5 year old children and their parents, measuring (1) whether child and parent generosity is correlated, (2) whether children are influenced by their parents when making sharing decisions and (3) whether parents model generosity to children. We observe no correlation of independently measured parent and child sharing decisions at this young age. Yet, we find that apart from those choosing an equal allocation of resources between themselves and another child, children adjust their behaviors to narrow the gap with their parent’s or other adult’s choice. We find that fathers, and parents of initially generous children, increase their sharing when informed that their child will be shown their choice.
    Date: 2015
  2. By: B. Douglas Bernheim (Stanford University); Christine L. Exley (Harvard Business School, Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit)
    Abstract: Some theories of conformity hold that social equilibrium either standardizes inferences or promotes a shared understanding of conventions and norms among individuals with fixed heterogeneous preferences (belief mechanisms). Others depict tastes as fluid and hence subject to social influences (preference mechanisms). Belief mechanisms dominate discussions of conformity within economics, but preference mechanisms receive significant attention in other social sciences. This paper seeks to determine whether conformity is attributable to belief mechanisms or preference mechanisms by exploiting their distinctive implications for the process of convergence. Laboratory experiments suggest that economists have focused too narrowly on explanations for conformity involving belief mechanisms.
    Keywords: conformity, norms, image motivation, prosocial behavior,
    Date: 2015–12
  3. By: Ruben Durante (Sciences Po and CEPR); Paolo Pinotti (Bocconi University and DONDENA Center); Andrea Tesei (Queen Mary University of London and CEP (LSE))
    Abstract: We investigate the political impact of entertainment television in Italy over the past thirty years by exploiting the staggered introduction of Silvio Berlusconi's commercial TV network, Mediaset, in the early 1980s. We find that individuals in municipalities that had access to Mediaset prior to 1985 - when the network only featured light entertainment programs - were significantly more likely to vote for Berlusconi's party in 1994, when he first ran for office. This effect persists for almost two decades and five elections, and is especially pronounced for heavy TV viewers, namely the very young and the old. We relate the extreme persistence of the effect to the relative incidence of these age groups in the voting population, and explore different mechanisms through which early exposure to entertainment content may have influenced their political attitudes.
    Keywords: Television, Entertainment, Voting, Political participation, Italy
    JEL: L82 D72 Z13
    Date: 2015–12
  4. By: Edward L. Glaeser; Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto; Yimei Zou
    Abstract: Should China build mega-cities or a network of linked middle-sized metropolises? Can Europe’s mid-sized cities compete with global agglomeration by forging stronger inter-urban links? This paper examines these questions within a model of recombinant growth and endogenous local amenities. Three primary factors determine the trade-off between networks and big cities: local returns to scale in innovation, the elasticity of housing supply, and the importance of local amenities. Even if there are global increasing returns, the returns to local scale in innovation may be decreasing, and that makes networks more appealing than mega-cities. Inelastic housing supply makes it harder to supply more space in dense confines, which perhaps explains why networks are more popular in regulated Europe than in the American Sunbelt. Larger cities can dominate networks because of amenities, as long as the benefits of scale overwhelm the downsides of density. In our framework, the skilled are more likely to prefer mega-cities than the less skilled, and the long-run benefits of either mega-cities or networks may be quite different from the short-run benefits.
    JEL: F15 O18 R10 R58
    Date: 2015–12
  5. By: Bulat Sanditov (TELECOM Ecole de Management, Institut Mines-T´el´ecom, France); Saurabh Arora (Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, UK)
    Abstract: Using a simple model with interdependent utilities, we study how social networks influence individual voluntary contributions to the provision of a public good. Departing from the stan- dard model of public good provision, we assume that an agent’s utility has two terms: (a) ‘ego’-utility derived from the agent’s consumption of public and private goods, and (b) a so- cial utility which is the sum of utility spillovers from other agents with whom the agent has social relationships. We establish conditions for the existence of a unique interior Nash equi- librium and describe the equilibrium in terms of network characteristics. We show that social network always has a positive effect on the provision of the public good. We also find that, in networks with “small world”-like modular structures, ‘bridging’ ties connecting distant parts of social network play an important role inducing the agent’s contribution to public good. Assumptions and results of the model are discussed in relation to the role of social capital in community-level development projects and to the effect of innovation networks on firms’ R&D investments.
    Keywords: public goods, interrelated utilities, social capital, R&D networks
    JEL: H41 D85 O31
    Date: 2015–12
  6. By: Tianshu Sun; Guodong (Gordon) Gao; Ginger Zhe Jin
    Abstract: While much research has examined the role of technology in moderating online user connections, how IT motivates offline interactions among users is much less understood. Using a randomized field experiment involving 80,000 participants, we study how mobile messaging can leverage recipients’ social ties to encourage blood donation. There are three main findings: first, both behavior intervention (in the form of reminder message) and economic reward (in the form of individual or group reward) increase donations, but only the messages with group reward are effective in motivating more donors to donate with their friend(s); second, group reward tends to attract different types of donors, especially those who are traditionally less active in online social setting; and third, across all treatments, message recipients donate a greater amount of blood if their friends are present. Structural estimation further suggests that rewarding group donors is four times more cost-effective than rewarding individual donors. Based on the structural estimates, we perform policy simulations on the optimal design of mobile messaging. The method of combining structural model and randomized field experiment opens new frontiers for research on leveraging IT to mobilize a user’s social network for social good.
    JEL: D8 I18
    Date: 2015–11
  7. By: Wilfried Anicet Kouamé (GREDI, Universite de Sherbrooke)
    Abstract:  One significant puzzle in economics is to explain why people pay their taxes and why there are so many differences in tax compliance across countries. Tax morale literature try to tackle this puzzle with a sparse evidence from the relationship between taxpayers and public authorities (vertical relationship). As a novelty, this paper highlights both theoretically and empirically trust in public institutions as a new explanation to taxpayer’ willingness to comply. The theoretical framework goes beyond the standard model of tax evasion by allowing social norms and interactions with public institutions. For empirical evidence, I use the World Values Survey 2010-2014 to estimate the causal impact of trust in public institutions on tax morale. The findings suggest that in emerging and developing countries, social norms play a great role on tax morale, whereas in advanced countries institutional environment seems to be one of the most important factors. The results remain robust after exploiting and conducting several sensitivity analysis.
    Keywords: public institutions, signal effects, tax morale, tax evasion, trust
    JEL: D70 H26 H31 K42
    Date: 2015–12
  8. By: Daniele Nosenzo (Department of Economics, University of Nottingham.); Fabio Tufano (Department of Economics, University of Nottingham.)
    Abstract: We study the effects of voluntary participation on cooperation in collective action problems. Voluntary participation may foster cooperation through an entry mechanism, which leads to assortative selection of interaction partners, or an exit mechanism, whereby the opportunity to leave the partnership can be used as a threat against free-riders. We examine the effectiveness of these mechanisms in a one-shot public goods experiment. Voluntary participation has a positive effect on provision only through the exit mechanism. Assortative selection of interaction partners seems to play a minor role in our setting, whereas the threat of costly exit is a powerful force to discipline free-riding.
    Keywords: public goods; cooperation; voluntary participation; exit; entry; experiment
    Date: 2015
  9. By: Stephen V. Burks (Division of Social Science, University of Minnesota, Institute for the Study of Labor, Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics (CeDEx), University of Nottingham); Daniele Nosenzo (Department of Economics, University of Nottingham.); Jon Anderson (Division of Science and Mathematics, University of Minnesota); Matthew Bombyk (Innovations for Poverty Action); Derek Ganzhorn (Northwestern University School of Law); Lorenz Goette (Institute for the Study of Labor, Department of Economics, University of Minnesota); Aldo Rustichini (Northwestern University School of Law, University of Bonn, Institute for Applied Microeconomics)
    Abstract: We measure a specific form of other-regarding behavior, costly cooperation with an anonymous other, among 645 subjects at a trucker training program in the Midwestern US. Using a sequential, strategic form of the Prisoners’ Dilemma, we categorize subjects as: Free Rider, Conditional Cooperator, and Unconditional Cooperator. We observe the subjects on the job for up to two years afterwards in two naturally-occurring choices—whether to send two types of satellite uplink messages from their trucks. The first identifies trailers requiring repair, which benefits fellow drivers, while the second benefits the experimenters by giving them some followup data. Because of the specific nature of the technology and job conditions (which we carefully review) each of these otherwise situationally similar field decisions represents an act of costly cooperation towards an anonymous other in a setting that does not admit of repeated-game or reputation-effect explanations. We find that individual differences in costly cooperation observed in the lab do predict individual differences in the field in the first choice but not the second. We suggest that this difference is linked to the difference in the social identities of the beneficiaries (fellow drivers versus experimenters), and we conjecture that whether or not individual variations in pro-sociality generalize across settings (whether in the lab or field) may depend in part on this specific contextual factor: whether the social identities, and the relevant prescriptions (or norms) linked to them that are salient for subjects (as in Akerlof and Kranton (2000); (2010)), are appropriately parallel.
    Keywords: experiments; generalizability; external validity; parallelism; social identity; otherregarding behavior; costly cooperation, social preferences; prisoners’ dilemma; trucker; truckload
    Date: 2015
  10. By: Sara Lowes; Nathan Nunn; James A. Robinson; Jonathan Weigel
    Abstract: We use variation in historical state centralization to examine the impact of institutions on cultural norms. The Kuba Kingdom, established in Central Africa in the early 17th century by King Shyaam, had more developed state institutions than the other independent villages and chieftaincies in the region. It had an unwritten constitution, separation of political powers, a judicial system with courts and juries, a police force and military, taxation, and significant public goods provision. Comparing individuals from the Kuba Kingdom to those from just outside the Kingdom, we find that centralized formal institutions are associated with weaker norms of rule-following and a greater propensity to cheat for material gain.
    JEL: D03 N47
    Date: 2015–12
  11. By: Richard W. Carney (Australian National University, Australia); Travers Barclay Child (VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands)
    Abstract: Do political ties, family-business group affiliation, and professional connections collectively matter for firm performance? By exploiting a new dataset for 1,290 large East Asian firms during the 2008 financial crisis, we offer a holistic comparison of these different networks. We find that professional networks buoyed performance; political and family networks did not. This suggests information access is a key benefit of business networks. A one standard deviation improvement to a firm's professional network position cushioned quarterly ROA by 2/5 of a percentage point during the crisis.
    Keywords: networks; political connections; interlocking directorates; family ownership; corporate governance
    JEL: G3 G14 L14
    Date: 2015–12–18
  12. By: Francine D. Blau
    Abstract: This paper examines evidence on the role of assimilation versus source country culture in influencing immigrant women’s behavior in the United States—looking both over time with immigrants’ residence in the United States and across immigrant generations. It focuses particularly on labor supply but, for the second generation, also examines fertility and education. We find considerable evidence that immigrant source country gender roles influence immigrant and second generation women’s behavior in the United States. This conclusion is robust to various efforts to rule out the effect of other unobservables and to distinguish the effect of culture from that of social capital. These results support a growing literature that suggests that culture matters for economic behavior. At the same time, the results suggest considerable evidence of assimilation of immigrants. Immigrant women narrow the labor supply gap with native-born women with time in the United States, and, while our results suggest an important role for intergenerational transmission, they also indicate considerable convergence of immigrants to native levels of schooling, fertility, and labor supply across generations.
    JEL: J13 J16 J22 J24 J61
    Date: 2015–11
  13. By: DE CNUDDE, Sofie; MOEYERSOMS, Julie; STANKOVA, Marija; TOBBACK, Ellen; JAVALY, Vinayak; MARTENS, David
    Abstract: Microfinance has known a large increase in popularity, yet the scoring of such credit still remains a difficult challenge. In general, retail credit scoring uses socio-demographic and credit data. We complement such data with social network data in an innovative manner i.e. with fine-grained interest and social network data from Facebook. Using a unique dataset of 4,985 microfinance loans from the Philippines, we show how the different data types can predict creditworthiness. A distinction is made between the relationships that the available data imply: (1) look-a-likes are persons who resemble one another in some manner, be it liking the same pages, having the same education, etc. (2) friends have a clearly articulated friendship relationship on Facebook, and finally (3) the \Best Friends Forever" (BFFs) are friends that interact with one another. Our analyses show two interesting conclusions for this emerging application. Firstly, applying relational learners on BFF data yields better results than considering only the friends data. Secondly, the interest-based data that defines look-a-likes, is more predictive than the friendship or BFF data. Moreover, the model built on interest data is not significantly worse than the model that uses all available data, including the friendship data. Hence begging the question: who cares about your Facebook friends when your interest data is available?
    Keywords: Networks, Data mining, Default prediction, Microcredit
    Date: 2015–10

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