nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2016‒12‒18
thirteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Trust the Police? Self-Selection of Motivated Agents into the German Police Force By Friebel, Guido; Kosfeld, Michael; Thielmann, Gerd
  2. Measuring Social Interaction Effects when Instruments are Weak By Stephen L. Ross; Zhentao Shi
  3. Indirect Reciprocity and Prosocial Behaviour: Evidence from a natural field experiment By Andreas Leibbrandt; Redzo Mujcic
  4. Macroeconomic Conditions and Well-being: Do Social Interactions Matter? By Emilio, Colombo; Valentina, Rotondi; Luca, Stanca;
  5. When the two ends meet: an experiment on cooperation across the Italian North-South divide By Pietro Battiston; Simona Gamba
  6. Profit with purpose? A theory of social enterprise By Timothy Besley; Maitreesh Ghatak
  7. On the relevance of psychological motives, values, and norms for socially responsible investments: An econometric analysis By Gunnar Gutsche; Anja Köbrich León; Andreas Ziegler
  8. Network Structure of an Aids-Denailists Online Community: Identifying Core Members and the Risk Group By Yuri G. Rykov; Peter A. Meylakhs; Yadviga E. Sinyavskaya
  9. Social Interactions in Voting Behavior: Evidence from India By Umair Khalil; Sulagna Mookerjee; Ryan Tierney
  10. Discrimination against female migrants wearing headscarves By Doris Weichselbaumer
  11. Diversity and Neighbourhood Satisfaction By Monica Langella; Alan Manning
  12. Social Interactions and Aspirations Formation in Rural Ethiopia By Mekonnen, Daniel Ayalew
  13. Asymmetric Social Norms By Gabriele Camera; Alessandro Gioffre

  1. By: Friebel, Guido; Kosfeld, Michael; Thielmann, Gerd
    Abstract: We conduct experimental games with police applicants in Germany to investigate whether intrinsically motivated agents self-select into public service. Our focus is on trustworthiness and the willingness to enforce norms as key dimensions of intrinsic motivation in the police context. We find that police applicants are more trustworthy than non-applicants, i.e., they return higher shares as second-movers in a trust game. Furthermore, they invest more in rewards and punishment when they can enforce cooperation as a third party. Our results provide clear evidence for advantageous self-selection into the German police force, documenting an important mechanism by which the match between jobs and agents in public service can be improved.
    Keywords: intrinsic motivation; norm enforcement; Public Service; Self-selection; trustworthiness
    JEL: C9 D64 D73 J45
    Date: 2016–12
  2. By: Stephen L. Ross (University of Connecticut); Zhentao Shi (Chinese University of Hong Kong)
    Abstract: Studies that can distinguish between exogenous and endogenous peer effects of social interactions are relatively rare. One recent identification strategy exploits partial overlapping groups of peers. If a student has two groups of separated peers, the peer choices are correlated through that specific student's choice, but one group's attributes are assumed to directly influence neither the other peer group's attributes nor the choices. In the context of academic performance in higher education, however, the evidence of peer effects on academic outcomes has been mixed, creating a potential for weak instruments. We utilize a period of transition when students were being reassigned to dormitories from a new campus to an old campus. Many groups of roommates were broken up at the end of freshman year, and then combined with other groups of students from the same school in the sophomore year. We find reduced-form evidence that information about a student's previous year roommates can explain the current test scores of their new roommates. However, due to weak instruments, the estimated endogenous effects appear unreasonably large. We draw on weak-IV robust tests, namely the Anderson-Rubin-type S-test (Stock and Wright, 2000) and Kleibergen's Lagrangian multiplier test (Kleibergen, 2005), to provide properly-sized tests for the endogenous effects between the test scores of current roommates and to calculate lower bounds of such effects. These tests strongly reject the null hypothesis of no endogenous effects. JEL Classification: C26, C51, I23, J00 Key words: academic performance, hypothesis testing, endogenous peer effects, random assignment, weak instruments
    Date: 2016–12
  3. By: Andreas Leibbrandt; Redzo Mujcic
    Abstract: Some of the greatest human achievements are difficult to imagine without pro-sociality. This paper employs a natural field experiment to investigate indirect reciprocity in natural social interactions. We find strong evidence of indirect reciprocity in one-shot interactions among drivers. Subjects for whom other drivers stopped were more than twice as likely to extend a similar act to a third party. This result is robust to a number of factors including age, gender, social status, presence of onlookers, and the opportunity cost of time. We provide novel evidence for the power of indirect reciprocity to promote prosocial behavior in the field.
    Date: 2016
  4. By: Emilio, Colombo; Valentina, Rotondi; Luca, Stanca;
    Abstract: This paper investigates the role played by social interactions in explaining the effects of macroeconomic conditions on well-being. Using survey data for a representative sample of Italian individuals, we find that social interactions play a dual role as both moderators and mediators of the effects of macroeconomic conditions. On the one hand, the well-being of people who spend more time with their friends or go out more often is less sensitive to the effects of macroeconomic fluctuations. On the other hand, social interactions are negatively affected by worsening macroeconomic conditions, thus playing a relevant role in the transmission of macroeconomic shocks to subjective well-being. More specifically, the negative impact of macroeconomic downturns on frequency of going out and active participation in associations contributes to explain the adverse effects of recessions on satisfaction with life and with individual life domains.
    Keywords: macroeconomic fluctuations, unemployment, subjective well-being
    JEL: E32 I31 I38
    Date: 2016–12–13
  5. By: Pietro Battiston; Simona Gamba
    Abstract: We study the behavior of individuals coming from different geographic regions of Italy, in a same public good game. We confirm previous findings according to which, faced with the same incentives and experimental conditions, Southern citizens exhibit a lower propensity to cooperate than Northern ones. This difference is mainly explained by a gap in the impact of coordination devices available to participants, as we show by manipulating them. Most importantly, when subjects with different geographic origins are teamed up together, their contributions decrease with respect to homogeneous groups, again because of a reduced effect of coordination devices. These findings reinforce the interpretation of the Italian South-North divide as related to trust, prejudice and a consequent path-dependence in levels of social capital, rather than due to the mere effect of differences in institutions and economic opportunities.
    Keywords: public good, cooperation, social capital, cultural differences, laboratory experiment
    Date: 2016–12–13
  6. By: Timothy Besley; Maitreesh Ghatak
    Abstract: When social benefits cannot be measured, an organization that selects managers based on pro-social motivation can be used to balance profits with a social purpose. This paper develops a model of social enterprise based on selection of citizen-managers to run firms with flexible missions. We analyze organizational choice between social enterprise, for-profits, and non-profits. The paper also develops the implications of matching between founders and managers based on their preferences for the mission.
    JEL: N0 J50
    Date: 2017
  7. By: Gunnar Gutsche (University of Kassel); Anja Köbrich León (University of Kassel); Andreas Ziegler (University of Kassel)
    Abstract: Based on unique data from a representative computer-based survey among financial decision makers in Germany, this paper empirically examines the determinants of socially responsible investments (SRI). Our econometric analysis implies that the perceived financial performance of SRI matters for the shares of investments in SRI among all investments. However, our main result is that psychological motives, values, and norms like warm glow motives and expectations of the social environment are even more relevant and thus have strong significant effects on SRI. This suggests that SRI investors gain strong non-financial utility from sustainable investments. While the membership in Christian churches and the strength of Christian religiosity also seem to be positively correlated with SRI, these correlations become insignificant if other psychological motives, values, and norms are included in the econometric analysis. Furthermore, a left-wing political orientation rather has significant negative effects on SRI. An explanation for this surprising result is the general aversion of a left-wing identification to the participation in stock markets, which is dominant in SRI.
    Keywords: Socially responsible investments; psychological motives; values; social norms; econometric analysis
    JEL: G02 G11 M14 A13 Q56 Z12
    Date: 2016
  8. By: Yuri G. Rykov (National Research University Higher School of Economics); Peter A. Meylakhs (National Research University Higher School of Economics); Yadviga E. Sinyavskaya (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
    Abstract: Background: With the rapid growth of online social network sites (SNS), the issue of health-related online communities and its social and behavioral implications have become increasingly important for public health and healthcare. Unfortunately, online communities often become vehicles for promotion of pernicious misinformation, for example, alleged harm of vaccination or that HIV-virus is a myth (AIDS-denialism). This study seeks to explore the social structure and participants' behavior of the AIDS-denialists online community to identify and estimate the those who potentially are most susceptible to AIDS-denialists arguments - “the risk group” in terms of becoming AIDS-denialists. Methods: Social network analysis was used for examining the most numerous AIDS-denialist community in the most popular Russian SNA “VKontakte”, which numbered 13 000 – 15 000 members during the various stage of analysis. Qualitative content analysis was also used for collecting relevant for this study members’ attributes, such as HIV status and the extent of belief in AIDS-denialists arguments. Two datasets were collected to analyze friendship relations between community members and their communication relations. Results: Using social network analysis combined with content-analysis we have identified the core of online community - cohesive and dedicated AIDS-denialists, and the risk group, which is not equal in composition to all peripheral members appeared in the online group. The risk group is the circle of users who engage with core members through online communication and may be more susceptible the AIDS-denialist propaganda. Analysis allowed to significantly reduce the target audience for possible intervention campaign and simultaneously increase the accuracy of user selection into the risk group (1369 users from the risk group is more than 10 times less than whole online group population counting over 15 000 users). Thus, online information interventions should be aimed at this risk group audience in the first place to prevent their adoption of AIDS-denialism beliefs, further spread of AIDS-denialism, and pernicious health consequences associated with being an HIV-positive AIDS-denialist. Conclusion: More research on influence of AIDS-denialism on HIV-positive online group members is needed. Of particular interest are longitudinal or case control studies that could detect the size of effect of AIDS-denialist propaganda that is communicated from hard-core denialists to the risk group, different factors associated with higher or lower susceptibility to AIDS-denialist views, and real health behavior change that occurs with becoming an AIDS-denialist
    Keywords: online community, HIV/AIDS, online social networks, social networks analysis, social contagion, risk groups
    JEL: Z19 I12
    Date: 2016
  9. By: Umair Khalil (West Virginia University, Department of Economics); Sulagna Mookerjee (Georgetown University School of Foreign Service Qatar); Ryan Tierney (Université de Montréal)
    Abstract: Using the unique staggered nature of the Indian General Elections, where voting takes place in several different phases spanning several weeks, we investigate how spatial variation in electoral dynamics affects subsequent voter turnout. Exploiting quasirandom assignment of constituencies to electoral phases each election, we assess the impact of average voter turnout in a given phase, on turnout in the subsequent phase. Standard endogeneity concerns in the estimation of social interactions are dealt by employing two distinct instrumental variables: 1) constituency specific average historical turnout in elections from the pre-staggered era, 2) voter density as measured by number of voters per polling location in a given constituency. Our estimates from both IVs, show that a 1 percentage point (pp) increase in turnout in a given phase depresses turnout in the subsequent phase by 0.3-0.5 pp. Crucially, falsification tests examining the effect on turnout in the current phase, of constituencies in the same phase or in future phases in the same election, produce no such effect. We find the data broadly support an ethical voter model, in which each agent acts as if setting an example for all and seek to maximize social welfare.
    Keywords: Voting Behavior, Staggered Elections, Election Spillovers
    Date: 2016–12
  10. By: Doris Weichselbaumer
    Abstract: Germany is currently experiencing a high influx of Muslim migrants. From a policy perspective, integration of migrants into the labor market is crucial. Hence, a field experiment was conducted that examined the employment chances of females with backgrounds of migration from Muslim countries, and especially of those wearing headscarves. It focused on Turkish migrants, who have constituted a large demographic group in Germany since the 1970s. In the field experiment presented here, job applications for three fictitious female characters with identical qualifications were sent out in response to job advertisements: one applicant had a German name, one a Turkish name, and one had a Turkish name and was wearing a headscarf in the photograph included in the application material. Germany was the ideal location for the experiment as job seekers typically attach their picture to their résumé. High levels of discrimination were found particularly against the migrant wearing a headscarf.
    Keywords: Discrimination, Muslim religion, Headscarf, Hiring, Experiment
    JEL: C93 J15 J71
    Date: 2016–09
  11. By: Monica Langella; Alan Manning
    Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of ethnic diversity on individuals' overall satisfaction with and other aspects of their neighbourhood. It uses panel data and a variety of empirical methods to control for potential endogeneity of diversity and of the location choices. We find that a higher white share in the neighbourhood raises overall satisfaction with the neighbourhood in our (overwhelming white) sample, but has no significant impact on generalised trust or other commonly-used measures of social capital. We suggest that part of the impact of diversity on overall neighbourhood satisfaction may be through an effect on a fear of crime and the quality of social life.
    Keywords: neighbourhood satisfaction, social capital, diversity, deprivation
    JEL: Z1
    Date: 2016–12
  12. By: Mekonnen, Daniel Ayalew
    Abstract: The recent literature postulates that aspirations are one of the key determinants of economic decision making, and that aspirations are formed socially through observations and by learning from ‘relevant others’ (or the ‘reference group’). This study empirically examines the latter using survey data collected from sample households in rural Ethiopia. Specifically, the study examines the effect of social interactions on aspirations. Based on several definitions of a ‘reference group’, we find that aspirations are indeed socially determined through observations as well as social interactions. Results also indicate that the social network size is an important determinant of aspirations, attesting to the importance of widening the aspirations window – a person’s cognitive world that shapes their aspirations. Across gender, results indicate that the effect of social interactions on aspirations is larger for females.
    Keywords: social interactions, aspirations, Ethiopia, Institutional and Behavioral Economics, D03, D62, Z1,
    Date: 2016–11
  13. By: Gabriele Camera (Chapman University and University of Basel); Alessandro Gioffre (Goethe University)
    Abstract: Studies of cooperation in infinitely repeated matching games focus on homogeneous economies, where full cooperation is efficient and any defection is collectively sanctioned. Here we study heterogeneous economies where occasional defections are part of efficient play, and show how to support those outcomes through contagious punishments.
    Keywords: cooperation, repeated games, social dilemmas
    JEL: C6 C7
    Date: 2016

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