nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2016‒02‒17
thirteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Religion, Discrimination and Trust By Chuah, Swee Hoon; Gächter, Simon; Hoffmann, Robert; Tan, Jonathan H. W.
  2. Collusive Tax Evasion and Social Norms By Wrede, Matthias; Abraham, Martin; Lorek, Kerstin; Richter, Friedemann
  3. Self-Reported Health and Gender: The Role of Social Norms By Caroli, Eve; Weber-Baghdiguian, Lexane
  4. Do Taxes Crowd Out Intrinsic Motivation? Field-Experimental Evidence from Germany By Rincke, Johannes; Boyer, Pierre; Dwenger, Nadja
  5. Trust in Procurement Interactions By Fugger, Nicolas; Katok, Elena; Wambach, Achim
  6. Endogenous Social Interactions: Which Peers Matter? By Tatsi, Eirini
  7. Gender Differences in Altruism: Responses to a Natural Disaster By Lilley, Matthew; Slonim, Robert
  8. The Importance of Peers for Compliance with Norms of Fair Sharing By Gächter, Simon; Gerhards, Leonie; Nosenzo, Daniele
  9. Sleep Restriction and Time‐of‐Day Impacts on Simple Social Interaction By Dickinson, David L.; McElroy, Todd
  10. Children's cooperation and discrimination in a bilingual province By Lergetporer, Philipp; Angerer, Silvia; Glätzle-Rützler, Daniela; Sutter, Matthias
  11. Pocketbook voting and social preferences in referenda By Meya, Johannes; Poutvaara, Panu; Schwager, Robert
  12. Does It Pay to Care? Prosocial Engagement and Employment Opportunities By Baert, Stijn; Vujić, Sunčica
  13. Secularization, tax policy and prosocial behavior By Bittschi, Benjamin; Borgloh, Sarah; Wigger, Berthold

  1. By: Chuah, Swee Hoon (RMIT University); Gächter, Simon (University of Nottingham); Hoffmann, Robert (RMIT University); Tan, Jonathan H. W. (University of Nottingham)
    Abstract: We propose that religion impacts trust and trustworthiness in ways that depend on how individuals are socially identified and connected. Religiosity and religious affiliation may serve as markers for statistical discrimination. Further, affiliation to the same religion may enhance group identity, or affiliation irrespective of creed may lend social identity, and in turn induce taste-based discrimination. Religiosity may also relate to general prejudice. We test these hypotheses across three culturally diverse countries. Participants' willingness to discriminate, beliefs of how trustworthy or trusting others are, as well as actual trust and trustworthiness are measured incentive compatibly. We find that interpersonal similarity in religiosity and affiliation promote trust through beliefs of reciprocity. Religious participants also believe that those belonging to some faith are trustworthier, but invest more trust only in those of the same religion – religiosity amplifies this effect. Across non-religious categories, whereas more religious participants are more willing to discriminate, less religious participants are as likely to display group biases.
    Keywords: religiosity, connectedness, discrimination, trust, experiment
    JEL: C72 C91 J16 Z12
    Date: 2015–12
  2. By: Wrede, Matthias; Abraham, Martin; Lorek, Kerstin; Richter, Friedemann
    Abstract: Although collusive tax evasion by buyers and sellers of commodities and also by employers and employees is widespread all over the world, it has rarely been analyzed in the tax evasion literature. To fill this gap and to compare collusive tax evasion with independent tax evasion, this paper develops a simple non-cooperative game-theoretic model and confirms the model's predictions in a laboratory experiment. Because collusive tax evasion involves social interaction, this paper focuses on the effect of social norms and theoretically and empirically demonstrates that the tax compliance norm has a stronger negative effect on the magnitude of collusive tax evasion than on independent tax evasion. The reason for this result is that in a collusive tax evasion game with multiple equilibria social norms act as an equilibrium selection device, whereas social norms need to be internalized to change the behavior of taxpayers who evade taxes unobservedly.
    JEL: H26 A13 H29
    Date: 2015
  3. By: Caroli, Eve (Université Paris-Dauphine); Weber-Baghdiguian, Lexane (Université Paris-Dauphine)
    Abstract: We investigate the role of social norms in accounting for differences in self-reported health as reported by men and women. Using the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS, 2010), we first replicate the standard result that women report worse health than men, whatever the health outcome we consider – i.e. general self-assessed health but also more specific symptoms such as skin problems, backache, muscular pain in upper and lower limbs, headache and eyestrain, stomach ache, respiratory difficulties, depression and anxiety, fatigue and insomnia. We then proxy social norms by the gender structure of the workplace environment and study how the latter affects self-reported health for men and women separately. Our findings indicate that individuals in workplaces where women are a majority tend to report worse health than individuals employed in male-dominated work environments, be they men or women. These results are robust to controlling for a large array of working condition indicators, which allows us to rule out that the poorer health status reported by individuals working in female-dominated environments could be due to worse job quality. We interpret this evidence as suggesting that social norms associated with specific gender environments play an important role in explaining differences in health-reporting behaviours across gender, at least in the workplace.
    Keywords: health, gender, social norms, job quality
    JEL: I12 I19 J16
    Date: 2016–01
  4. By: Rincke, Johannes; Boyer, Pierre; Dwenger, Nadja
    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.
    JEL: C93 D03 H26
    Date: 2015
  5. By: Fugger, Nicolas; Katok, Elena; Wambach, Achim
    Abstract: We investigate the claim that auctions in procurement are detrimental to the buyer- seller relationship, which is expressed by less trust by the buyer and more oppor- tunistic behavior by the supplier after the sourcing. To do so, we compare exper- imentally a standard auction and a buyer-determined auction. It turns out that buyer-determined auctions result in higher prices but enable cooperation between the buyer and the selected supplier. In the buyer-determined auction it can be optimal for the buyer to choose the larger offer. The standard auctions, on the other hand, yield lower prices but reduce cooperation to a minimum. Interest- ingly the degree of trust reflected by a larger number of trades and efficiency in case of trade are significantly higher in the buyer-determined auction. Theoretical reasoning based on other-regarding preferences helps to organize the results.
    JEL: D44 D03 D02
    Date: 2015
  6. By: Tatsi, Eirini
    Abstract: This paper compares endogenous social interactions models to determine which one fits the classroom reality best. The analysis uses data from German 9th-graders and considers the effect of the best and worst peers scores, the peers sum and peers average scores on own achievement. Although each model seems plausible when estimated separately, comparison and a selection test point to the classmates average model, meaning that group-based policies are effective. The worst peers model comes second, followed by the best peers and the sum of peers models. Examination of different-ability students responses to increases of average peer achievement reveals either competition for the first place or last-place aversion. Conditional on own course preferences, own and peer characteristics, spillovers transmit only through cognitive ability. Therefore, regrouping on the basis of characteristics such as immigration background is obsolete. Policies should aim at low achievers in small enough classrooms because only then single-student influences can change the social norm. By improving the average through the worst, the best become even brighter.
    JEL: C31 I20 Z13
    Date: 2015
  7. By: Lilley, Matthew (Harvard University); Slonim, Robert (University of Sydney)
    Abstract: High-profile disasters can cause large spikes in philanthropy and volunteerism. By providing temporary positive shocks to the altruism of donors, these natural experiments help identify heterogeneity in the distributions of the latent altruism which motivates donors. This study examines gender heterogeneity of volunteer response by blood donors following the most devastating Bushfires in Australia's history. Using difference in differences analyses, we observe a sharp increase in blood donations after the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. Several key features of this increase are consistent with the predictions of a model where the distribution of latent altruism has smaller variance among women than men. First, the highest increase in donations occurs among previous non-donors, lapsed donors and less frequent donors. Further, the increase in donations following the Bushfires, compared to non-disaster periods, is substantially greater for females than males; the proportional increase in the number of females donating for the first time after the disaster is approximately twice the proportional increase for men. Notably, this gender gap decreases with the frequency with which people have previously donated.
    Keywords: gender, natural experiment, altruism
    JEL: D64 C93
    Date: 2016–01
  8. By: Gächter, Simon (University of Nottingham); Gerhards, Leonie (University of Hamburg); Nosenzo, Daniele (University of Nottingham)
    Abstract: A burgeoning literature in economics has started examining the role of social norms in explaining economic behavior. Surprisingly, the vast majority of this literature has studied social norms in asocial decision settings, where individuals are observed to act in isolation from each other. In this paper we use a large-scale dictator game experiment (N = 850) to show that the presence of "peers" in the decision setting faced by an individual can have a profound influence on the individual's perception of the decision situation and its underlying norms of sharing, as elicited in an incentive compatible way. However, we find limited evidence that this influence of peers in normative considerations translates into a corresponding effect in actual behavior. Partly, this is due to substantial heterogeneity in the extent to which dictators in our sample are willing to comply with norms of fair sharing.
    Keywords: social norms, norm compliance, peer effects, fair sharing, dictator game, framing, experiments
    JEL: A13 C92 D03
    Date: 2015–12
  9. By: Dickinson, David L. (Appalachian State University); McElroy, Todd (Florida Gulf Coast University)
    Abstract: Simple bargaining games are the foundation of more complex social interactions necessary for healthy relationships and well‐functioning societies. Neuroscience research has shown that high‐level deliberative thinking processes are necessary for social‐decision making - it seems cognitively less demanding to be greedy or to mistrust. In this paper, our focus is on how commonly‐experienced adverse sleep states, which are known to harm deliberative thinking, impact outcomes in the classic simple bargaining games (ultimatum, dictator, and trust games). Specifically, we experimentally manipulate sleep states of 184 young‐adult subjects who took part in a 3 week experimental protocol. Subjects were administered each game twice: once after a full week of sleep restriction and once after a full week of well‐rested sleep levels. Subjects were also randomly assigned to early morning (7:30 am) or later evening (10:00 pm) sessions to manipulate the optimality of the time‐of‐day of the decisions. We find a robust result of increased greed, reduced trust, and reduced trustworthiness following sleep restriction, after controlling for demographics and session indicators. We find no significant direct impact of circadian timing on decisions for these tasks. However, the mediating variable for these sleep manipulation effects is subjective sleepiness, and both sleep restriction and suboptimal circadian timing significantly increase self‐reported sleepiness. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that increased sleepiness reduces the relative input of deliberate thinking in social interactions.
    Keywords: sleep, time-of-day, ultimatum, dictator, trust, bargaining
    JEL: C7 C9
    Date: 2016–01
  10. By: Lergetporer, Philipp; Angerer, Silvia; Glätzle-Rützler, Daniela; Sutter, Matthias
    Abstract: While discrimination and its economic implications have been studied in many different societies and based on a multitude of attributes like ethnicity, religion, gender, or language, the development of such behavior in children is still poorly understood. Here we present experimental evidence from a bilingual city in Northern Italy on whether the language spoken by a partner in a prisoner s dilemma game affects behavior. We examine how discrimination based on language develops in practically all six- to eleven-year old primary school children in the city. We find that cooperation increases with age and that both in-group favoritism and out-group discrimination emerge as children get older.
    JEL: C93 D03 D64
    Date: 2015
  11. By: Meya, Johannes; Poutvaara, Panu; Schwager, Robert
    Abstract: We study the role of self-interest and social preferences in referenda. Our analysis is based on collective purchasing decisions of university students on deep-discount flat-rate tickets for public transportation and culture. Individual usage data allows quantifying monetary benefits associated with each ticket. We find that turnout is much higher among students who benefit a lot from having a ticket, suggesting instrumental voting. In each referendum, a majority votes in line with self-interest, providing strong evidence for pocketbook voting. However, social preferences like altruism, public good considerations and paternalism shift the vote of a sizeable minority against their own financial interest.
    JEL: D72 H41 D64
    Date: 2015
  12. By: Baert, Stijn (Ghent University); Vujić, Sunčica (University of Antwerp)
    Abstract: We investigate whether, why and when prosocial engagement has a causal effect on individual employment opportunities. To this end, a field experiment is conducted in which volunteering activities are randomly assigned to fictitious job applications sent to genuine vacancies. We find that volunteers get one third more interview invitations than non‐volunteers. The volunteering premium is higher for females but invariant with respect to the number of engagements and the private versus public or nonprofit orientation of the job posting firm. As a result, our findings are consistent with the idea that prosocial workers sort themselves into non‐commercial sectors.
    Keywords: prosocial behaviour, volunteering, labour market, gender gaps, statistical discrimination, sorting, experiments
    JEL: C93 D64 J24 J71
    Date: 2016–01
  13. By: Bittschi, Benjamin; Borgloh, Sarah; Wigger, Berthold
    Abstract: Using German administrative income tax data we investigate economic consequences of an increasingly secular society for prosocial behavior. For this purpose, we establish initially a simple household model to formalize the relationship between religious giving in form of the German church tax and other tax deductible donations. We test the model hypotheses empirically and compare how income and the tax-price of giving differ as incentives to give between individuals leaving church and church members. While we find evidence for crowding in between religious giving and other donations for church members, we do not observe such a relation for church leavers. Moreover, donation behavior of church-leavers is much more responsive to tax incentives of charitable giving compared to church members. Moreover, we find that non-donors have a significantly increased probability of leaving church compared to donors. We trace this results back to the fact that non-donors are not able to compensate higher church taxes by reducing their donations.
    JEL: H24 H41 Z12
    Date: 2015

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