nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2017‒02‒19
six papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Economic Downturn and Volunteering: Do Economic Crises Affect Content Generation on Wikipedia? By Slivko, Olga; Kummer, Michael; Zhang, Michael
  2. Evidence of Conditional and Unconditional Cooperation in a Public Goods Game: Experimental Evidence from Mali By Lopera Baena, Maria Adelaida
  3. On the Puzzle of Diversification in Social Networks with Occupational Mismatch By Zaharieva, Anna
  4. Social Ties and Favoritism in Chinese Science By Raymond Fisman; Jing Shi; Yongxiang Wang; Rong Xu
  5. Who Becomes a Politician? By Ernesto Dal Bó; Frederico Finan; Olle Folke; Torsten Persson; Johanna Rickne
  6. Entrepreneurial Status, Social Norms, and Economic Growth By Dimitrios Varvarigos; Nikolaos Kontogiannis

  1. By: Slivko, Olga; Kummer, Michael; Zhang, Michael
    Abstract: In this paper, we address the impact of surging unemployment on online public good provision. Specifically, we ask how drastically increased unemployment affects voluntary contributions of content to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. We put together a monthly country-level data set, which combines country specific economic outcomes with data on contributions to the online encyclopedia. As a source of exogenous variation in the economic state we use the fact that European countries were affected by the financial crisis in the US in September 2008 with different intensity. For European countries, we find that the economic downturn is associated with more viewership, which channels higher participation of volunteers in Wikipedia expressed in editing activity and content growth. We provide evidence for increased information search online or online learning as a potential channel of the change in public goods provision, which is a potentially important side effect of the economic downturn.
    JEL: D29 D80 H41
    Date: 2016
  2. By: Lopera Baena, Maria Adelaida
    Abstract: This paper measures the relative importance of "conditional cooperation" and "unconditional cooperation" in a large public goods experiment conducted in Mali. We use expectations about total public goods provision to estimate a structural choice model with heterogeneous preferences. While unconditional cooperation can be captured by common preferences shared by all participants, conditional cooperation is much more heterogeneous and depends on unobserved individual factors. This structural model, in combination with two experimental treatments, suggests that leadership and group communication incentivize public goods provision through different channels. First, We find that participation of local leaders effectively changes individual choices through unconditional cooperation. A simulation exercise predicts that even in the most pessimistic scenario in which all participants expect zero public good provision, 60% would still choose to cooperate. Second, allowing participants to communicate fosters conditional cooperation. The simulations suggest that expectations are responsible for around 24% of the observed public good provision and that group communication does not necessarily ameliorate public good provision. In fact, communication may even worsen the outcome when expectations are low.
    JEL: C93 D03 H41
    Date: 2016
  3. By: Zaharieva, Anna
    Abstract: This paper incorporates social networks into a frictional labour market framework. There are two worker types and two occupations. Both occupations are subject to correlated business cycle fluctuations in labour demand. The equilibrium in this model is characterized by occupational mismatch which is associated with a wage penalty. This paper shows that there exists a unique value of network homophily maximizing the present value of income. Therefore, there is a gain for risk-neutral workers if their network is diversified between the two occupations. The reason for diversification is that the present value of income is a non-linear function of the network composition. Thus, it is not the desire to reduce the volatility of income as in standard portfolio theory which is driving the decision of workers. Nevertheless, the optimal diversification level is higher with stronger negative correlation in labour demand between the two occupations, with a lower unemployment benefit and with a higher probability of recession in the primary occupation. On the other hand, the optimal diversification level is reduced if there is on-the-job search in the state of mismatch.
    JEL: J64 J46 J22
    Date: 2016
  4. By: Raymond Fisman; Jing Shi; Yongxiang Wang; Rong Xu
    Abstract: We study favoritism via hometown ties, a common source of favor exchange in China, in fellow selection of the Chinese Academies of Sciences and Engineering. Hometown ties to fellow selection committee members increase candidates' election probability by 39 percent, coming entirely from the selection stage involving an in-person meeting. Elected hometown-connected candidates are half as likely to have a high-impact publication as elected fellows without connections. CAS/CAE membership increases the probability of university leadership appointments and is associated with a US$9.5 million increase in annual funding for fellows' institutions, indicating that hometown favoritism has potentially large effects on resource allocation.
    JEL: J71 O3 P16
    Date: 2017–02
  5. By: Ernesto Dal Bó; Frederico Finan; Olle Folke; Torsten Persson; Johanna Rickne
    Abstract: Can a democracy attract competent leaders, while attaining broad representation? Economic models suggest that free-riding incentives and lower opportunity costs give the less competent a comparative advantage at entering political life. Moreover, if elites have more human capital, selecting on competence may lead to uneven representation. This paper examines patterns of political selection among the universe of municipal politicians and national legislators in Sweden, using extraordinarily rich data on competence traits and social background for the entire population. We document four new facts that together characterize an “inclusive meritocracy.” First, politicians are on average significantly smarter and better leaders than the population they represent. Second, this positive selection is present even when conditioning on family (and hence social) background, suggesting that individual competence is key for selection. Third, the representation of social background, whether measured by parental earnings or occupational social class, is remarkably even. Fourth, there is at best a weak tradeoff in selection between competence and social representation, mainly due to strong positive selection of politicians of low (parental) socioeconomic status. A broad implication of these facts is that it is possible for democracy to generate competent and socially-representative leadership.
    JEL: H10 H70 J45 P16
    Date: 2017–02
  6. By: Dimitrios Varvarigos; Nikolaos Kontogiannis
    Abstract: We offer a behavioural approach on the relation between growth and volatility, based on a monetary growth model where entrepreneurs borrow funds to invest in projects that produce capital goods. In addition to their varying pecuniary returns, different projects also vary with respect to the status they confer to the entrepreneurs who operate them. We show that social status promotes capital accumulation. We also show that, even when the status-induced increase of marginal utility is constant over time, the interaction between status and inflation is an additional source of transitional dynamics. When a social norm links this increase of marginal utility to past outcomes, however, the dynamics can generate endogenous cycles in the transition to the balanced growth path.
    Keywords: Social status, Norms, Economic growth, Cycles
    JEL: E32 O42 Z10
    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.