nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2017‒01‒29
ten papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. The Moldable Young: How Institutions Impact Social Trust By Bergh, Andreas; Öhrvall, Richard
  2. Individualism, Collectivism, and Trade By Aidin Hajikhameneh; Erik O. Kimbrough
  3. The Cultural Foundations of Happiness By Pierluigi Conzo; Arnstein Aassve; Giulia Fuochi; Letizia Mencarini
  4. Women's career choices, social norms and child care policies By Barigozzi, Francesca; Cremer, Helmuth; Roeder, Kerstin
  5. Gender Peer Effects Heterogeneity in Obesity By Rokhaya Dieye; Bernard Fortin
  6. Inspiration From The “Biggest Loser†: Social Interactions In A Weight Loss Program By Kosuke Uetake; Nathan Yang
  7. An Overview of Diffusion in Complex Networks By Dunia López-Pintado
  8. Horizontal inequality, status optimization, and interethnic marriage in a conflict-affected society By Omar Shahabudin McDoom
  9. Assessing the impacts of a training program for women in Peru: Are There social networking effects? By Eduardo Zegarra; Angie Higuchi; Ricardo Vargas
  10. Over the top: Team composition and performance in Himalayan expeditions By Bernd Frick; Anica Rose

  1. By: Bergh, Andreas (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)); Öhrvall, Richard (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))
    Abstract: Social trust is linked to many desirable economic and social outcomes, but the causality between trust and institutions is debated. Using new data from a representative sample of 2,668 Swedish expatriates (surveyed in the SOM Institute’s Swedish Expatriate Survey 2014), we use variation in time spent in the new country to infer about the effect of country level institutions and norms (such as corruption perceptions, average trust levels and various aspects of economic freedom) on social trust. The results suggest that individual trust suffers in countries with high corruption, low trust and low legal quality. The effect is relatively small, occurs mainly during the first 3 to 10 years and is observed only among those aged less than 30 at the time of arrival in the new country. The results are robust to controlling for a large array of individual characteristics (including age), and support the view that social trust is sensitive to events that occur early in life. In contrast, after the age of approximately 30, trust seems to be a highly resilient personal trait.
    Keywords: Trust; Social norms; Institutions; Migration
    JEL: D13 D83 J62 Z13
    Date: 2016–09–07
  2. By: Aidin Hajikhameneh (Institute for the Study of Religion, Economics and Society, Chapman University); Erik O. Kimbrough (Simon Fraser University)
    Abstract: While economists recognize the important role of formal institutions in the promotion of trade, there is increasing agreement that institutions are typically endogenous to culture, making it difficult to disentangle their separate effects. Lab experiments that assign institutions exogenously and measure and control individual cultural tendencies can allow for clean identification of these effects. We focus on cultural tendencies toward individualism/collectivism, which social psychologists highlight as an important determinant of many behavioral differences across groups and people. We design an experiment to explore the relationship between subjects’ dispositions to individualism/collectivism and their willingness to engage in impersonal trade under enforcement institutions of varying strength. Overall, we find that individualists tend to engage in trade more often than collectivists. This effect is mitigated somewhat as the effectiveness of enforcement institutions increases. That is, the detrimental impact on future trade of having been cheated in the past is reduced. Nevertheless we see that cultural dispositions shape the decision to engage in impersonal trade, regardless of institutional environment.
    Keywords: individualism, collectivism, exchange, trust, experiments
    JEL: C7 C9
    Date: 2017–01–23
  3. By: Pierluigi Conzo (Università di Torino, CSEF and Collegio Carlo Alberto); Arnstein Aassve (Università Bocconi, Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy); Giulia Fuochi (Università di Padova); Letizia Mencarini (Università Bocconi, Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy)
    Abstract: The paper provides a framework for how culture affects happiness. According to self-determination theory, well-being is driven by the satisfaction of three basic psychological needs: autonomy, relatedness and competence. We assess if, and to what extent, generalized trust and the values of obedience and respect influence Europeans’ satisfaction of these needs, controlling for income and education. We find a positive and significant impact for generalized morality (high trust and respect, low obedience), which is robust to different checks for endogeneity, including instrumental variable regressions at country, regional and individual level and panel-data estimations.
    Keywords: self-determination, culture, trust, subjective well-being, happiness, life satisfaction.
    JEL: A13 E02 P48 I31 Z13
    Date: 2017–01–13
  4. By: Barigozzi, Francesca; Cremer, Helmuth; Roeder, Kerstin
    Abstract: Our model explains the observed gender-specific patterns of career and child care choices through endogenous social norms. We study how these norms interact with the gender wage gap. We show that via the social norm a couple's child care and career choices impose an externality on other couples, so that the laissez-faire is inefficient. We use our model to study the design and effectiveness of three commonly used policies. We find that child care subsidies and women quotas can be effective tools to mitigate or eliminate the externality. Parental leave, however, may even intensify the externality and decrease welfare.
    Keywords: Child Care; child care subsidies; parental leave; Social norms; women quotas; women's career choices
    JEL: D13 H23 J16 J22
    Date: 2017–01
  5. By: Rokhaya Dieye; Bernard Fortin
    Abstract: This paper explores gender peer effects heterogeneity in adolescent Body Mass Index (BMI). We propose a utility-based non-cooperative social network model with effort technology. We allow the gender composition to influence peer effects. We analyze the possibility of recovering the fundamentals of our structural model from the best-response functions. We provide identification conditions of these functions generalizing those of the homogeneous version of the model. Extending Liu and Lee [2010], we consider 2SLS and GMM strategies to estimate our model using Add Health data. We provide tests of homophily in the formation of network and reject them after controlling for network (school) fixed effects. The joint (endogenous plus contextual) gender homogeneous model is rejected. However, we do not reject that the endogenous effects are the same.This suggests that the source of gender peer effects heterogeneity is the contextual effects. We find that peers’ age, parents’ education, health status, and race are relevant for the latter effects and are gender-dependent.
    Keywords: Obesity, Social Networks, Gender, Heterogeneity, Peer Effects, Identification, Add Health.
    JEL: L12 C31 Z13 D85
    Date: 2017
  6. By: Kosuke Uetake; Nathan Yang
    Abstract: We investigate the role of heterogeneous peer effects in encouraging healthy and sustainable lifestyles. Our analysis revolves around one of the largest and most extensive databases about weight loss, which contains well over 10 million observations that track individual participants’ meeting attendance and progress in a large national weight loss program. A few key findings emerge. First, while higher weight loss among average performing peers leads to lower future weight loss for an individual, the effect of the top weight loss performer among peers leads to greater future weight loss for that same individual. Second, the discouraging effects from average peers and encouraging effects from top performing peers are magnified for individuals who struggled with weight loss in the past. Third, the encouraging effect of top performers has a long-run impact on an individual’s weight loss success. Finally, we provide suggestive evidence that the discrepancy between the top and average performer effects is not likely an artifact of salience or informativeness of top performers, but instead, driven by its positive impact on the motivation to accomplish weight loss goals. Given our empirical findings, we discuss managerial implications on meeting design.
    Keywords: big data, customer development, customer relationship management, healthy and sustainable living, subscription services, weight management
    Date: 2017–01
  7. By: Dunia López-Pintado (Department of Economics, Universidad Pablo de Olavide; CORE, Université catholique de Louvain)
    Abstract: We survey a series of theoretical contributions on diffusion in random networks. We start with a benchmark contagion process, referred in the epidemiology literature as the Susceptible-Infected-Susceptible model, which describes the spread of an infectious disease in a population. To make this model tractable, the interaction structure is considered as a heterogeneous sampling process characterized by the degree distribution. Within this framework, we distinguish between the case of unbiased-degree networks and biased-degree networks. We focus on the characterization of the diffusion threshold; that is, a condition on the primitives of the model that guarantees the spreading of the product to a significant fraction of the population, and its persistence. We also extend the analysis introducing a general diffusion model with features that are more appropriate for describing the diffusion of a new product, idea, behavior, etc.
    Keywords: degree distribution, random networks, diffusion threshold, endemic state, homophily.
    JEL: C73 L14 O31 O33
    Date: 2017–01
  8. By: Omar Shahabudin McDoom
    Abstract: Although several theories of interethnic conflict emphasize ties across group boundaries as conducive to ethnic coexistence, little is known about how such ties are formed. Given their integrative potential, I examine the establishment of cross-ethnic marital ties in a deeply divided society and ask what drives individuals to defy powerful social norms and sanctions and to choose life-partners from across the divide. I theorize such choices as the outcome of a struggle between social forces and individual autonomy in society. I identify two channels through which social forces weaken and individual autonomy increases to allow ethnic group members to establish ties independently of group pressures: elite autonomy and status equalization. I find, first, that as an individual’s educational status increases, and second, as between-group inequality declines, individuals enjoy greater freedom in the choice of their social ties. However, I also find that in an ethnically ranked society this enhanced autonomy is exercised by members of high-ranked and low-ranked groups differently. Members from high-ranked groups become more likely to inmarry; low-ranked group members to outmarry. I suggest a status-optimization logic lies behind this divergent behaviour. Ethnic elites from high-ranked groups cannot improve their status through outmarriage and their coethnics, threatened by the rising status of the lower-ranked group, seek to maintain the distinctiveness of their status superiority through inmarriage. In contrast, as their own individual status or their group’s relative status improves, members of low-ranked groups take advantage of the opportunity to upmarry into the higher-ranked group. I establish these findings in the context of Mindanao, a conflict-affected society in the Philippines, using a combination of census micro-data on over two million marriages and in-depth interview data with inmarried and outmarried couples.
    Keywords: horizontal inequality; ethnic conflict; social status; ranked groups; intermarriage; Philippines
    JEL: D74 I2 Z13
    Date: 2016–12
  9. By: Eduardo Zegarra; Angie Higuchi; Ricardo Vargas
    Abstract: The general goal of this study is to assess the impacts on women’s economic and social participation of a peer-to-peer training program in Cañete Province, Peru. We use a quasi-experimental methodology applied to treatment and control groups. The study evaluates three areas of potential effects: (i) participation and returns from economic activities (use of time, labour market participation, family business, savings); (ii) indicators of women’s autonomy, family cohesion and social participation; and (iii) living standards. The impacts we found are mixed. We only detected robust impacts on the propensity to engage in savings and participate in local social organizations by treated women. The channels behind these impacts require more specific research, but we hypothesize that it may be related to expanded social networking. We observe a few specific impacts related to autonomy (negative) and family cohesion (positive), which can be linked to the religious nature of the program. We evaluate differentiated effects by some features of the treatment group as self-assessment of economic usefulness by women as well as trainers’ education and age. In terms of policy, we consider that peer-to-peer programs of this type may have limited impacts in terms of broad development goals like increased income, labour participation and business activity by women, but these can also show some advantages for expanding women’s social networking and access to savings and local organizations. Improved peer-to-peer programs more clearly linked to the economic advancement of women may be more efficient in achieving broader development goals.
    Keywords: Human Capital, Human Development, Human Resources, Formal Training Programs, Training, Skill Building, Specific Human Capital, Training, Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    JEL: O15 J24
    Date: 2017
  10. By: Bernd Frick (Paderborn University); Anica Rose (Paderborn University)
    Abstract: Using a large sub-sample of expeditions from the “Himalayan Database”, we analyze the impact of a climbing team’s cultural value diversity on various performance outcomes. Irrespective of an already large (and still growing) body of theoretical and empirical research on the diversity-performance link, the study of the multifaceted concept “culture” under rather extreme conditions has hitherto been largely ignored. We extend the literature by focusing on the effects of the cultural value diversity of a commercial climbing team on expedition outcomes. We test our hypotheses using data from 1,168 expeditions that took place between 1990 and 2014 involving mostly “amateur” climbers from all over the world. We find that the probability of team success is positively influenced by a culturally more heterogeneous team composition. Individual-level analyses further reveal that an increase in a team member’s cultural distance increases the probability of individual success, but also the probability of experiencing an injury or death. This result shows that the higher collective performance in culturally diverse teams is driven by the isolation of single team members.
    Keywords: team diversity; team performance; cultural value diversity
    JEL: M14
    Date: 2017–01

This nep-soc issue is ©2017 by Fabio Sabatini. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.