nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2017‒05‒28
seven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. From Extreme to Mainstream: How Social Norms Unravel By Leonardo Bursztyn; Georgy Egorov; Stefano Fiorin
  2. Sun, Regulation and Local Social Networks By Antoine Bonleu
  3. Building bridges or deepening divides: Resources and formal volunteering in post-apartheid South Africa By Dineo Seabe; Ronelle Burger
  4. Friendship network composition and subjective wellbeing By Awaworyi Churchill, Sefa; Smyth, Russell
  5. Social Interactions, Mechanisms, and Equilibrium: Evidence From a Model of Study Time and Academic Achievement By Tim Conley; Nirav Mehta; Todd Stinebrickner; Ralph Stinebrickner
  6. The spillover effects of gender quotas on dishonesty By Valeria Maggian; Natalia Montinari
  7. Pocketbook Voting, Social Preferences, and Expressive Motives in Referenda By Meya, Johannes; Poutvaara, Panu; Schwager, Robert

  1. By: Leonardo Bursztyn; Georgy Egorov; Stefano Fiorin
    Abstract: Social norms are typically thought to be persistent and long-lasting, sometimes surviving through growth, recessions, and regime changes. In some cases, however, they can quickly change. This paper examines the unraveling of social norms in communication when new information becomes available, e.g., aggregated through elections. We build a model of strategic communication between citizens who can hold one of two mutually exclusive opinions. In our model, agents communicate their opinions to each other, and senders care about receivers' approval. As a result, senders are more likely to express the more popular opinion, while receivers make less inference about senders who stated the popular view. We test these predictions using two experiments. In the main experiment, we identify the causal effect of Donald Trump's rise in political popularity on individuals' willingness to publicly express xenophobic views. Participants in the experiment are offered a bonus reward if they authorize researchers to make a donation to an anti-immigration organization on their behalf. Participants who expect their decision to be observed by the surveyor are significantly less likely to accept the offer than those expecting an anonymous choice. Increases in participants' perceptions of Trump's popularity (either through experimental variation or through the “natural experiment” of his victory) eliminate the wedge between private and public behavior. A second experiment uses dictator games to show that participants judge a person less negatively for publicly expressing (but not for privately holding) a political view they disagree with if that person's social environment is one where the majority of people holds that view.
    JEL: C90 D03 D72 D83 P16 Z10
    Date: 2017–05
  2. By: Antoine Bonleu (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - ECM - Ecole Centrale de Marseille - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales)
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is to explain over-regulation and local social capital as barriers to immigration. The interest of social networks is that conflict resolution is independent of the law. Hence, if local individuals develop local social capital and regulation, foreigners without social networks are disadvantaged and can less easily migrate. We develop a two-country search-theoretic model where we endogenize the choice of procedural formalism (PF) and the network size. This model features two different equilibria: a Mediterranean equilibrium with PF and dense local social network and a Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon equilibrium without PF and local social networks.
    Keywords: housing market regulation,mobility,local social capital,climate amenities,social networks
    Date: 2017–04
  3. By: Dineo Seabe (Dept of Applied Economics, Vrije Univeriteit Brussels); Ronelle Burger (Dept. Economics, Stellenbosch University)
    Abstract: This study investigates volunteering in a highly unequal society. It uses post-apartheid South Africa as a case study: the enduring apartheid legacy has left deep divides between classes and races in the country. The research asks if formal volunteering serves to enhance social cohesion or reinforces such social divides. Logistic analysis is applied to the 2001 South African World Values Survey, to measure the strength of the relationship between the likelihood to volunteer, and selected human, social and cultural capital variables. The analysis shows that volunteering tends to align with existing social divides. Individuals are more likely to volunteer if they are educated and affluent, supporting the dominant status theory. Prejudice and not valuing sharing are also associated with a higher proclivity for volunteering. Broadly, we find that the available evidence suggests that volunteering is associated with bonding, rather than bridging, social capital. Although hardly uncontentious, broad-based support for and involvement in religious volunteering suggest that religious communities and congregations could in the future provide a bridge to help heal the rifts if links between such communities are strengthened.
    Keywords: Volunteering, human capital, social capital, ‘Ubuntu’, religiosity
    JEL: C51 D64 D71 L32
    Date: 2017
  4. By: Awaworyi Churchill, Sefa; Smyth, Russell
    Abstract: Using data from the UK Community Life Survey, we present the first study to examine the relationship between heterogeneity in one’s friendship network and subjective wellbeing. We measure network heterogeneity by the extent to which one’s friends are similar to oneself with regard to ethnicity and religion. We find that people who have friendship networks with characteristics dissimilar to themselves have lower levels of subjective wellbeing. Specifically, our two-stage least squares (2SLS) estimates, using measures of ethnic and religious diversity based on the Herfindahl-type fractionalization index that are flipped between adjoining rural/urban areas as instruments, suggest that a standard deviation increase in the proportion of one’s friends from different ethnic (religious) groups is associated with a decrease of 0.276 (0.451) standard deviations in subjective wellbeing.
    Keywords: friendship,heterogeneity,social capital,networks,wellbeing
    JEL: Z12 J15 I31
    Date: 2017
  5. By: Tim Conley (University of Western Ontario); Nirav Mehta (University of Western Ontario); Todd Stinebrickner (Western University); Ralph Stinebrickner (University of Western Ontario)
    Abstract: We develop and estimate a model of study time choices of students on a social network. The model is designed to exploit unique data collected in the Berea Panel Study. Study time data allow us to quantify an intuitive mechanism for academic social interactions: own study time may depend on friend study time. Social network data allow study time choices and resulting academic achievement to be embedded in an estimable equilibrium framework. New data on study propensities allow us to directly address potential sorting into friendships based on typically unobserved determinants of study time. We develop a specifi cation test that exploits the equilibrium nature of social interactions and use it to show that our study propensity measures substantially address endogeneity concerns. We find friend study time strongly affects own study time, and, therefore, student achievement. We examine how network structure interacts with student characteristics to affect academic achievement. Sorting on friend characteristics appears important in explaining variation across students in study time and achievement, and determines the aggregate achievement level.
    Keywords: social networks, peer effects, homophily, time-use
    JEL: H00 I20 J00
    Date: 2017–05
  6. By: Valeria Maggian (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Etienne] - Université de Lyon - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Natalia Montinari (Université de Bologne - UNIBO - Università di Bologna [Bologna])
    Abstract: We experimentally test for spillover effects of gender quotas on subsequent unrelated, unethical behavior. We find that introducing quotas has no systematic effect on unethical behavior for both genders. High performing, competitive females are more likely to display unethical behavior than their male counterparts.
    Keywords: Affirmative action, spillover effects, unethical behavior, competition, laboratory experiments
    Date: 2017
  7. By: Meya, Johannes; Poutvaara, Panu; Schwager, Robert
    Abstract: We develop and test a theory of voting and turnout decisions that integrates self-interest, social preferences, and expressive motives. Our model implies that if pocketbook benefits are relevant, voters either perceive their impact on the outcome to be non-negligible, or expressive motivations do not play a role in the decision on how to vote. Conversely, if own pocketbook benefits do not explain voting, then voting is expressive. If the perceived probability of being pivotal is non-negligible, social preferences and expressive concerns are observationally equivalent. Our empirical analysis studies collective choices which are analogous to decisions on local public goods. We consider referenda among university students on whether to collectively purchase deeply discounted flat rate tickets for public transportation and cultural amenities. Individual usage data allow quantifying the monetary benefits associated with each ticket. As voters had precise information on the individual costs and benefits, our setting comprises a real-world laboratory of direct democracy. We find that monetary benefits strongly influence participation and voting. However, social or expressive motives, such as stated altruism, environmental concerns, and paternalism, are decisive for a significant minority. Our results rule out purely expressive voting and imply that a substantial share of the electorate perceived their impact on the outcome to be non-negligible.
    Keywords: pocketbook voting; social preferences; expressive voting; instrumental voting; public goods; altruism; referendum
    JEL: D72 H41 D64
    Date: 2017–05

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