nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2017‒02‒26
eight papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. The Long-Term Costs of Government Surveillance: Insights from Stasi Spying in East Germany By Siegloch, Sebastian; Lichter, Andreas; Löffler, Max
  2. Indirect Reciprocity, Resource Sharing, and Environmental Risk: Evidence from Field Experiments in Siberia By Drew Gerkey; E. Lance Howe; James Murphy; Colin West
  3. Family and Peer Social Identity Effects on Schooling Attitudes and Performance By Norris, Jonathan
  4. Identifying Peer Effects Using Gold Rushers By John Lynham
  5. Coevolution of Cooperation, Preferences and Cooperative Signals in Social Dilemmas. By Müller, Stephan; von Wangenheim, Georg
  6. Making it right? Social norms, hand writing and cognitive skills By Guber, Raphael
  7. Preferences for living in homogenous communities and cooperation: a new methodological approach combining the hedonic price model and a field experiment§ By Riccardo Borgoni; Giacomo Degli Antoni; Marco Faillo; Alessandra Michelangeli
  8. Morale, Relationships, and Wages: An Experimental Study By Englmaier, Florian; Segal, Carmit

  1. By: Siegloch, Sebastian; Lichter, Andreas; Löffler, Max
    Abstract: Based on official records from the former East German Ministry for State Security, we quantify the long-term costs of state surveillance on social capital and economic performance. Using county-level variation in the number of spies in the 1980s, we exploit discontinuities at state borders to show that higher levels of government surveillance led to lower levels of interpersonal and institutional trust in post-reunification Germany. Based on a second identification strategy that accounts for county fixed effects we further estimate the economic costs of spying. We find that a more intense surveillance caused lower self-employment rates, fewer patents per capita, higher unemployment rates and larger population losses throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Overall, our results suggest that the social and economic costs of East German state surveillance are large and persistent.
    JEL: H11 N34 P26
    Date: 2016
  2. By: Drew Gerkey; E. Lance Howe; James Murphy; Colin West
    Abstract: Integrating information from existing research, qualitative ethnographic interviews, and participant observation, we designed a field experiment that introduces idiosyncratic environmental risk and a voluntary sharing decision into a standard public goods game. Conducted with subsistence resource users in rural villages on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Northeast Siberia, we find evidence consistent with a model of indirect reciprocity and local social norms of helping the needy. When participants are allowed to develop reputations in the experiments, as is the case in most small-scale societies, we find that sharing is increasingly directed toward individuals experiencing hardship, good reputations increase aid, and the pooling of resources through voluntary sharing becomes more effective. We also find high levels of voluntary sharing without a strong commitment device; however, this form of cooperation does not increase contributions to the public good. Our results are consistent with previous experiments and theoretical models, suggesting strategic risks tied to rewards, punishments, and reputations are important. However, unlike studies that focus solely on strategic risks, we find the effects of rewards, punishments, and reputations are altered by the presence of environmental factors. Unexpected changes in resource abundance increase interdependence and may alter the costs and benefits of cooperation, relative to defection. We suggest environmental factors that increase interdependence are critically important to consider when developing and testing theories of cooperation.
    Date: 2016
  3. By: Norris, Jonathan (University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: An adolescent’s family and peers, impart incentives on education through social identity shaping attitudes about school and performance. I model identity related mechanisms from family and peer ideals about education in a network model of adolescent effort in school and link it empirically with spatial econometrics. Both groups influence attitudes and changes in family ideals create spill-overs in attitudes. Attitudes impact performance in school, and changes in attitudes influence performance over the network. us, targeting family and peer ideals and attitudes about school can positively impact an adolescent’s educational traits and outcomes; effects that in turn ripple across a school.
    Keywords: Identity Economics; Peer Effects; Spatial Econometrics; Friendship Network
    JEL: C21 I21 J13 Z13
    Date: 2017–02–17
  4. By: John Lynham (University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics; University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization)
    Abstract: Fishers pay attention to where other fishers are fishing, suggesting the potential for peer effects. But peer effects are difficult to identify without an exogenous shifter of peer group membership. We propose an identification strategy that exploits a shifter of peer group membership: gold rushes of new entrants. Following an exchange-rate-induced gold rush in an American fishery, we find that new entrants are strongly influenced by the location choices of their peers. Over-identification tests suggest that the assumptions underlying identification hold when new entrants are inexperienced but identification is lost as new entrants start to potentially influence their peers.
    Keywords: Peer Effects, Gold Rushes, Resource Extraction
    JEL: J0 Q0 D8
    Date: 2016–07
  5. By: Müller, Stephan; von Wangenheim, Georg
    Abstract: We study the coevolution of cooperation, preferences and cooperative signals in an environment where individuals engage in a signaling-extended Prisoner's Dilemma. We identify a new type of evolutionary equilibrium -- a transitional equilibrium -- which is constituted and stabilized by the dynamic interaction of multiple Bayesian equilibria. A transitional equilibrium: (1) exists under mild conditions and (2) can stabilize a population that is characterized by the heterogeneity of behavior, preferences, and signaling. We thereby offer an explanation for persistent regularities observed in laboratory and field data on cooperative behavior. Furthermore, this type of equilibria is least demanding with respect to differences in signaling cost between `conditional cooperators' and `opportunists'. Indeed and quite surprisingly, a transitional equilibrium is consistent with `conditional cooperators' bearing higher signaling cost in terms of fitness than `opportunists'.
    JEL: C73 D64 D82
    Date: 2016
  6. By: Guber, Raphael
    Abstract: Forcing a left-handed child to use the right hand for writing was long common practice in the Western world. Although it is rare now in these societies, it is still highly prevalent in developing countries and across various cultures. Forced right-hand writing is a rare early childhood intervention that was performed on a large scale and throughout history. In this paper we investigate how this intervention affected educational outcomes and cognitive skills in German adults in the mid and long run. To identify causal effects we use the decline of the right-hand writing norm across cohorts in a difference-in-differences first stage, where right-handers serve as counterfactual group. While OLS estimates indicate that treated individuals obtained more years of education and better math grades (compared to all others), our 2SLS coefficients suggest zero or negative effects for educational outcomes, and strong negative effects on cognitive skills. These findings are in line with brain scans that show reduced gray matter in the putamen of switched German adults, which is responsible for motor skills and cognitive functioning.
    JEL: J24 I10 I21
    Date: 2016
  7. By: Riccardo Borgoni (DEMS - University of Milan-Bicocca); Giacomo Degli Antoni (University of Parma, Department of Law); Marco Faillo (University of Trento); Alessandra Michelangeli (DEMS - University of Milan-Bicocca)
    Abstract: The literature on the hedonic price approach applied to housing highlights the existence of natives’ preferences against living in high-dense immigrant urban areas. At the same time, empirical and experimental evidence show that ethnic fragmentation reduces cooperation at the community level. Mainly because of the difficulty to measure cooperation at the level of neighborhood, the correlation between these two phenomena is still largely unexplored. In this paper, we propose to investigate this issue by combining the hedonic price approach and a framed field experiment that allows us to collect a measure of cooperation at the neighborhood level. We show how this methodology may be implemented by carrying out a pilot study for the city of Milan. The purpose is to pave the way for further research aiming at disentangling between alternative explanations of natives’ preferences for living in homogeneous communities.
    Keywords: Cooperative behavior; framed field experiment, revealed preferences
    JEL: C93 J15 R10 R21
  8. By: Englmaier, Florian; Segal, Carmit
    Abstract: Many labor relations are characterized by the possibility of repeated interaction without long term contracts and with discretionary pay components. We implement such a structure in the lab by allowing workers and firms to interact repeatedly for many periods absent a pre-announced final period. In this setting persistent and different human resource practices emerge endogenously: we find (long-term) relationships characterized by generous surplus sharing and spot-interactions with little to no rent for the workers. Efficiency, i.e. exerted effort, is comparable across these two institutions. Hence, spot-interactions are at least as profitable for firms engaging in such relationships. In control treatments, we show that neither limited firm commitment nor structural unemployment alone is sufficient to generate these patterns. Analyzing individual level data, we document that firm and worker behavior are individually rational and that individual histories play a significant role in explaining the observed behavior.
    JEL: C91 D21 M50
    Date: 2016

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