nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2016‒11‒27
ten papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Seasonal Scarcity and Sharing Norms By Vojtech Bartos
  2. Culture and team production By Vicente Calabuig; Gonzalo Olcina; Fabrizio Panebianco
  3. Organized Crime, Violence, and Politics By Alesina, Alberto; Piccolo, Salvatore; Pinotti, Paolo
  4. The Autocratic Root of Social Distrust By Xin Jin; Xu Xu
  5. Undoing Gender with Institutions. Lessons from the German Division and Reunification By Quentin Lippmann; Alexandre Georgieff; Claudia Senik
  6. Gender Differences in Willingness to Compete: The Role of Culture and Institutions By Booth, Alison L.; Fan, Elliott; Meng, Xin; Zhang, Dandan
  7. Understanding Gender Differences in Leadership By Sule Alan; Seda Ertac; Elif Kubilay; Gyongyi Loranth
  8. Social Contagion of Ethnic Hostility By Michal Bauer; Jana Cahlikova; Julie Chytilova; Tomas Zelinsky
  9. Trust and Performance: Exploring Socio-Economic Mechanisms in the “Deep” Network Structure with Agent-Based Modeling By Gao, Lin
  10. The Pay-What-You-Want Game and Laboratory Experiments By Greiff, Matthias; Egbert, Henrik

  1. By: Vojtech Bartos
    Abstract: Sharing provides one of few sources of insurance in poor communities. It gains prominence during adverse shocks, often largely aggregate, when it is also costliest for individuals to share. Yet it is little understood how scarcity affects individual willingness to share and willingness to enforce sharing from others, an important ingredient in sustaining prosocial behavior. This is what this paper examines. I conduct repeated within-subject lab-in-the-field experiments among Afghan subsistence farmers during a lean and a postharvest season of relative plenty. These farmers experience seasonal scarcities annually. Using dictator and third party punishment games I separate individual sharing behavior from enforcement of sharing norms. While sharing exhibits high degree of temporal stability at both the aggregate, and, to a large extent, at the individual level, the enforcement of sharing norms is substantially weaker during the lean season. The findings suggest that the farmers are capable of sustaining mutual sharing through transitory periods of scarcity. It remains an open question whether exposure to unexpected shocks or prolonged periods of scarcity might result in breakdown of prosociality due to loosened sharing norms enforcement on a community level.
    Keywords: Afghanistan; scarcity; seasonality; sharing; social norms;
    JEL: C93 D63 I32 Z13
    Date: 2016–01
  2. By: Vicente Calabuig; Gonzalo Olcina; Fabrizio Panebianco
    Abstract: This paper addresses theoretically the question whether culture has an effect on economic performance in team production, and which would be the optimal team culture. The members of the team are guided both by economic incentives and by personal norms, weighed according to their prevailing level of materialism. We assume that personal norms evolve following a dynamics driven by a combination of psychological mechanisms such as consistency and conformism. The different vectors of materialism, consistency and conformity shared by the group result in a continuum of cultures with different combinations of individualism and collectivism. Our main results show how team culture turns out to be a fundamental determinant for group performance. When income distribution is not completely egalitarian or the members of the team display heterogeneous levels of skills, culture matters in the sense that there exists an optimal culture that maximizes team production and its characteristics depend on the speci c distributions of income and skills. A higher average productivity or a more inegalitarian dispersion of remunerations requires a more collectivist culture. And a higher dispersion of individual productivities requires a more individualist culture.
    Date: 2016
  3. By: Alesina, Alberto; Piccolo, Salvatore; Pinotti, Paolo
    Abstract: We show that in Sicily Mafia killings of politicians increase before elections and have negative effects on the vote received by parties not captured by the Mafia. Then, using a very large data set of electoral speeches, we find strong evidence that anti-mafia activities by politicians elected in Sicily are, in fact, negatively correlated with the levels of pre-electoral violence. Using data on homicides in all regions of Italy starting from the end of the nineteenth century, we identify a political cycle of homicides only in regions with organized crime. We also show how this electoral cycle changes as a function of different electoral rules and the relative strength of captured and non-captured parties. All these empirical findings are rationalized by a simple signaling model in which criminal organizations exert pre-electoral violence to inform adverse politicians about their military strength.
    Keywords: electoral violence; organized crime; political discourse; voting
    JEL: D72 K42
    Date: 2016–11
  4. By: Xin Jin (Department of Economics, University of South Florida); Xu Xu (Department of Political Science, Pennsylvania State University)
    Abstract: This paper presents evidence that autocratic culture adversely affects social trust and civic engagement. Using a measure of individuals’ inherited autocratic culture from their country of origin, we find that individuals whose ancestors migrated from countries with higher autocracy levels are less likely to trust others or to vote in presidential elections in the U.S. The impact of autocratic culture on generalized trust can last for three generations while the impact on voting disappears after one generation. These findings are consistent across the U.S. and Europe and are not driven by selection into migration.
    Keywords: Trust, Autocracy, Elections, Immigration
    JEL: P16 Z10 Z13
    Date: 2016–11
  5. By: Quentin Lippmann (PSE - Paris School of Economics); Alexandre Georgieff (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC) - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics); Claudia Senik (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC) - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics, UP4 - Université Paris-Sorbonne)
    Abstract: Social scientists have provided empirical evidence that "gender trumps money", meaning that gender norms can be more powerful than economic rationality in shaping daily arrangements between spouses. In particular, when they deviate from the "male breadwinner" norm, women react by "doing gender", i.e. overplaying their feminine role by increasing the number of housework hours that they accomplish. The risk of divorce also increases when a woman earns more than her husband. This paper shows that, however powerful, these norms are cultural and can be trumped by institutions. We use the 41-year division of Germany as a natural experiment and look at differences between East and West Lander in terms of gender behavior after the German reunification. As most countries of the socialist bloc, the former GDR had designed institutions that were much more gender equalizing than their counterpart in the former FRG. We show that these institutions have created a culture that keeps inuencing behavior up to the current period. In particular, East Germany differs from West Germany in the sense that a woman can earn more than her husband without "doing gender" and without putting her marriage at risk.
    Keywords: German Division,Household economics,Gender norms,Culture,Institutions
    Date: 2016–10
  6. By: Booth, Alison L. (Australian National University); Fan, Elliott (National Taiwan University); Meng, Xin (Australian National University); Zhang, Dandan (Peking University)
    Abstract: In the laboratory experiment reported in this paper we explore how evolving institutions and social norms, which we label 'culture', change individuals' preferences and behaviour in mainland China. From 1949 China experienced dramatic changes in its socio-economic institutions. These began with communist central planning and the establishment of new social norms, including the promotion of gender equality in place of the Confucian view of female 'inferiority'. Market-oriented reforms, begun in 1978, helped China achieve unprecedented economic growth and at the same time Marxist ideology was gradually replaced by the acceptance of individualistic free-market ideology. During this period, many old traditions crept back and as a consequence social norms gradually changed again. In our experiment we investigate gender differences in competitive choices across different birth cohorts of individuals who, during their crucial developmental-age, were exposed to one of the two regimes outlined above. In particular we investigate gender differences in competitive choices for different birth cohorts in Beijing using their counterparts in Taipei (subject to the same original Confucian traditions) to control for the general time trend. Our findings confirm: (i) that females in Beijing are significantly more likely to compete than females from Taipei; (ii) that Beijing females from the 1958 birth cohort are more competitive than their male counterparts as well as more competitive than later Beijing birth cohorts; and (iii) that for Taipei there are no statistically significant differences across cohort or gender in willingness to compete. In summary, our findings confirm that exposure to different institutions and social norms during the crucial developmental age changes individuals' behaviour. Our findings also provide further evidence that gender differences in economic preferences are not innately determined.
    Keywords: gender, competitive choices, culture, behavioural economics
    JEL: C9 C91 C92 J16 P3 P5 D03
    Date: 2016–11
  7. By: Sule Alan (University of Essex); Seda Ertac (Koc University); Elif Kubilay (Bocconi University); Gyongyi Loranth (University of Virginia)
    Abstract: We study the evolution of gender differences in the willingness to assume the decision-maker role in a group, which is a major component of leadership. Using data from a large-scale field experiment, we show that while there is no gender difference in the willingness to make risky decisions on behalf of a group in a sample of children, a large gap emerges in a sample of adolescents. In particular, the proportion of girls who exhibit leadership willingness drops by 39% going from childhood to adolescence. We explore the possible causes of this drop and find that a significant part of it can be explained by a dramatic decline in "social confidence," measured by the willingness to perform a real effort task in public. We show that it is possible to capture the observed link between public performance and leadership by estimating a structural model that incorporates costs related to social concerns. These findings are important in addressing the lower propensity of females to self-select into high-level positions, which are typically subject to greater public scrutiny.
    Keywords: leadership, gender, risk taking, social confidence, experiment
    JEL: C91 C93 D03 I28
    Date: 2016–11
  8. By: Michal Bauer; Jana Cahlikova; Julie Chytilova; Tomas Zelinsky
    Abstract: Ethnic hostilities often spread rapidly. This paper investigates the influence of peers on willingness to sacrifice one’s own resources in order to cause harm to others. We implement a novel experimental design, in which we manipulate the identity of a victim as well as the social context, by allowing subjects to observe randomly assigned peers. The results show that the susceptibility to follow destructive peer behavior is great when harm is caused to members of the Roma minority, but small when it impacts co-ethnics. If not exposed to destructive peers, subjects do not discriminate. We observe very similar patterns in a norms elicitation experiment: destructive behavior towards Roma is not generally rated as more socially appropriate than when directed at co-ethnics but norms are more sensitive to social contexts. The findings can help to explain why ethnic hostilities can spread quickly among masses, even in societies with few visible signs of systematic inter-ethnic hatred, and why many societies institute hate crime laws.
    Keywords: ethnic conflict; discrimination; hostile behavior; contagion; peer effects;
    JEL: C93 D03 D74 J15
    Date: 2016–08
  9. By: Gao, Lin
    Abstract: This paper extends the concept of interaction platforms and explores the evolution of interaction and cooperation supported by individuals’ changing trust and trustworthiness on directed weighted regular ring network from the angle of micro scope by using agent-based modeling. This agent-based model integrates several considerations below via a relatively delicate experimental design: 1) a characteristic of trust is that trust is destroyed easily and built harder (Slovic, 1993); 2) trustworthiness may be reflected on both strategy decision and payoff structure decision; 3) individuals can decide whether or not to be involved in an interaction; 4) interaction density exists, not only between neighbors and strangers (Macy and Skvoretz, 1998), but also within neighbors; 5) information diffusion. In this agent-based model, marginal rate of exploitation of original payoff matrix and relative exploitation degree between two payoff matrices are stressed in their influence of trust-destroying; influence of observing is introduced via imagined strategy; relationship is maintained through relationship maintenance strength, and so on. This paper treats number of immediate neighbors, degree of embeddedness in social network, mutation probability of payoff matrix, mutated payoff matrix, proportion of high trust agents and probabilities of information diffusion within neighborhood and among non-neighbors as important aspects happening on interaction platforms, and the influences of these factors are probed respectively on the base of a base-line simulation.
    Keywords: Trust, trustworthiness, directed weighted regular ring network, agent-based modeling, marginal rate of exploitation, relative exploitation degree, imagined strategy, relationship maintenance strength, number of neighbors, degree of embeddedness in social network, mutation of payoff matrix, information diffusion, social mobility, institutional quality, evolution of interaction, evolution of cooperation
    JEL: B52 C63 D82 D85
    Date: 2016–11–21
  10. By: Greiff, Matthias; Egbert, Henrik
    Abstract: This paper introduces the Pay-What-You-Want game which represents the interaction between a buyer and a seller in a Pay-What-You-Want (PWYW) situation. The PWYW game embeds the dictator game and the trust game as subgames. This allows us to use previous experimental studies with the dictator and the trust game to identify three factors that can influence the success of PWYW pricing in business practice: (i) social context, (ii) social information, and (iii) deservingness. Only few cases of PWYW pricing for a longer period of time have been documented. By addressing repeated games, we isolate two additional factors which are likely to contribute to successful implementations of PWYW as a long term pricing strategy. These are (iv) communication and (v) the reduction of goal conflicts. The central implication of this study is that the results from experimental economics can provide guidance to developing long-term applications of PWYW pricing.
    Keywords: Pay-What-You-Want; PWYW Game; participative pricing; experiments; reciprocity
    JEL: C90 D11 M21 M31
    Date: 2016–11–22

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