nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2017‒07‒30
thirteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Understanding Cultural Persistence and Change By Paola Giuliano; Nathan Nunn
  2. The Status-Enhancing Power of Sociability By Alessandro Bucciol; Simona Cicognani; Luca Zarri
  3. Conformism, Social Norms and the Dynamics of Assimilation By Olcina, Gonzalo; Panebianco, Fabrizio; Zenou, Yves
  4. Too Lucky to Be True: Fairness Views under the Shadow of Cheating By Bortolotti, Stefania; Soraperra, Ivan; Sutter, Matthias; Zoller, Claudia
  5. Is electoral punishment important for democracy? The role of social capital and religious resources By Ambra, Poggi;
  6. The formation of prosociality: Causal evidence on the role of social environment By Kosse, Fabian; Deckers, Thomas; Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah; Falk, Armin
  7. Discrimination through "Versioning" with Advertising in Random Networks By Antonio Jiménez-Martínez; Óscar González-Guerra
  8. Who Are Nonvoters? By Lyn Ragsdale; Jerrold G. Rusk
  9. Measuring Social Connectedness By Michael Bailey; Ruiqing (Rachel) Cao; Theresa Kuchler; Johannes Stroebel; Arlene Wong
  10. On Efficient Information Aggregation Networks By Antonio Jiménez-Martínez
  11. The degree measure as utility function over positions in networks By Rene J.R. van den Brink; Agnieszka Rusinowska
  12. Education and tax morale By Rodríguez Justicia, David
  13. Self-control and crime revisited: Disentangling the effect of self-control on risk taking and antisocial behavior By Friehe, Tim; Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah

  1. By: Paola Giuliano; Nathan Nunn
    Abstract: When does culture persist and when does it change? We examine a determinant that has been put forth in the anthropology literature: the variability of the environment from one generation to the next. A prediction, which emerges from a class of existing models from evolutionary anthropology, is that following the customs of the previous generation is relatively more beneficial in stable environments where the culture that has evolved up to the previous generation is more likely to be relevant for the subsequent generation. We test this hypothesis by measuring the variability of average temperature across 20-year generations from 500–1900. Looking across countries, ethnic groups, and the descendants of immigrants, we find that populations with ancestors who lived in environments with more stability from one generation to the next place a greater importance in maintaining tradition today. These populations also exhibit more persistence in their traditions over time.
    JEL: N10 Q54 Z1
    Date: 2017–07
  2. By: Alessandro Bucciol (Department of Economics, University of Verona, Italy); Simona Cicognani (Department of Economics, University of Verona, Italy; The Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis); Luca Zarri (Department of Economics, University of Verona, Italy)
    Abstract: This paper shows that individuals' sociability plays an important role in explaining where individuals locate themselves in the social ladder, also when their objective location within society (measured through their income, wealth and education) is considered. Using data from the US Health and Retirement Study, we assess individuals' sociability through the number and quality of friendships and attitude towards others (support, social cohesion, reciprocity, cynical hostility, loneliness and discrimination). We find subjective social status to correlate positively with social contact, reciprocity and social cohesion. Individuals with higher life satisfaction seem disconnected from objective elements when subjectively evaluating their social status.
    Keywords: Subjective social status, Objectively measured social status, Sociability, Personality traits
    JEL: I31 Z13
    Date: 2017–07
  3. By: Olcina, Gonzalo; Panebianco, Fabrizio; Zenou, Yves
    Abstract: We consider a model where each individual (or ethnic minority) is embedded in a network of relationships and decides whether or not she wants to be assimilated to the majority norm. Each individual wants her behavior to agree with her personal ideal action or norm but also wants her behavior to be as close as possible to the average assimilation behavior of her peers. We show that there is always convergence to a steady-state and characterize it. We also show that different assimilation norms may emerge in steady state depending on the structure of the network. We then consider an optimal tax/subsidy policy which aim is to reach a certain level of assimilation in the population. We believe that our model sheds light on how the pressure from peers, communities and families affect the long-run assimilation decisions of ethnic minorities.
    Keywords: Assimilation; networks; peer pressure.; Social norms
    JEL: D83 D85 J15 Z13
    Date: 2017–07
  4. By: Bortolotti, Stefania (University of Cologne); Soraperra, Ivan (University of Amsterdam); Sutter, Matthias (University of Cologne); Zoller, Claudia (University of Cologne)
    Abstract: The steady increase in inequality over the past decades has revived a lively debate about what can be considered a fair distribution of income. Public support for the extent of redistribution typically depends on the perceived causes of income inequality, such as differences in effort, luck, or opportunities. We study how fairness views and the extent of redistribution are affected by a hitherto over-looked, but relevant factor: immoral self-serving behavior that can lead to increased inequality. We focus on situations in which the rich have potentially acquired their fortunes by means of cheating. In an experiment, we let third parties redistribute resources between two stakeholders who could earn money either by choosing a safe amount or by engaging in a risky, but potentially more profitable, in-vestment. In one treatment, the outcome of the risky investment is determined by a random move, while in another treatment stakeholders can cheat to obtain the more profitable outcome. Although third parties cannot verify cheating, we find that the mere suspicion of cheating changes fairness views of third parties considerably and leads to a strong polarization. When cheating opportunities are pre-sent, the share of subjects redistributing money from rich to poor stakeholders triples and becomes as large as the fraction of libertarians – i.e., participants who never redistribute. Without cheating opportunities, libertarian fairness views dominate, while egalitarian views are much less prevalent. These results indicate that fairness views and attitudes towards redistribution change significantly when people believe that income inequality is the result of cheating by the rich.
    Keywords: fairness views, redistribution, unethical behavior, inequality, experiment
    JEL: C91 D63 D81 H26
    Date: 2017–07
  5. By: Ambra, Poggi;
    Abstract: Electoral punishment is the main instrument that citizens have to keep government accountable, answerable and accessible to the people they serve. The aim of this paper is to empirically investigate whether individual social resources - social capital and religious resources - may enhance the probability that individuals value electoral punishment important for democracy. We use data from the 2012 European Social Survey Multilevel Data and a multilevelapproach. Our findings lend support to the view that social resources matter in determining the importance of electoral punishment, even if the importance of each resource varies across countries. Social capital has a complex effect on the importance of electoral punishment: trust reduces the probability that individuals value electoral punishment, while social participation increases it. Religious resources result negatively correlated with the importance of electoral punishment suggesting that loyalty versus religious values and traditions imply unconditional citizens’ support for government. Finally, some religions seem to have a specific role in enhancing the importance of electoral punishment confirming an active role of religious values and authorities in shaping individual political behaviors.
    Keywords: electoral punishment, religion, social capital, poverty, multi-level models
    JEL: C23 D72 I3 O15 A13
    Date: 2017–07–19
  6. By: Kosse, Fabian; Deckers, Thomas; Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah; Falk, Armin
    Abstract: This study presents descriptive and causal evidence on the role of social environment for the formation of prosociality. In a first step, we show that socio-economic status (SES) as well as the intensity of mother-child interaction and mothers prosocial attitudes are systematically related to elementary school children's prosociality. In a second step, we present evidence on a randomly assigned variation of the social environment, providing children with a mentor for the duration of one year. Our data include a two-year follow-up and reveal a significant and persistent increase in prosociality in the treatment relative to the control group. Moreover, enriching the social environment bears the potential to close the observed developmental gap in prosociality between low and high SES children. Our findings suggest that the program serves as a substitute for prosocial stimuli in the family environment.
    Keywords: formation of preferences,prosociality,social preferences,trust,social inequality
    JEL: D64 C90
    Date: 2017
  7. By: Antonio Jiménez-Martínez (Division of Economics, CIDE); Óscar González-Guerra (Division of Economics, CIDE)
    Abstract: This paper proposes a framework of second-degree discrimination with two different versions of a service that are served in random networks with positive externalities. In the model, consumers must choose between purchasing a premium version of the service or a free version that comes with advertising about a certain good (unrelated to the service). The ads attached to the free version influence the free version adopters’ opinions and, given the induced effects on the good sales, they affect the optimal pricing of the premium version. We relate the optimal pricing strategy to the underlying hazard rate and degree distribution of the random network. Under increasing hazard rates, hazard rate dominance always implies higher prices for the service. In some applications of the model, decreasing hazard rates are often associated to extreme situations where only the free version of the service is provided. The model provides foundations for empirical analysis since key features of social networks can be related to their underlying hazard rate functions and degree distributions.
    Keywords: Social networks, second-degree discrimination, advertising, degree distributions, hazard rate
    JEL: D83 D85 L1 M3
    Date: 2016–09
  8. By: Lyn Ragsdale (Rice University); Jerrold G. Rusk (Rice University)
    Abstract: This paper examines the motivations of individuals who do not vote in American elections from 1968 through 2012. Existing research portrays American nonvoters as a large monolith of people who lack psychological involvement in politics, do not have adequate personal resources to participate, have insufficient social networks to be engaged, or are not sufficiently mobilized by candidates and campaigns. Instead, our paper maintains that uncertainty in the national campaign context ?the economic, mass communication, legal, and international environments--drives individual citizens? decisions about whether to vote. When there is high uncertainty in the national campaign context, people are more likely to vote. When there is low uncertainty in the national campaign context, citizens are less likely to vote. The paper further develops a theoretical distinction between the external uncertainty found in the national campaign context and the internal uncertainty citizens feel about which candidate will adequately address the external uncertainty. In considering this internal uncertainty, four types of nonvoters emerge as they respond differently to the lack of clarity. First, the politically ignorant non-voters do not follow the campaign or the candidates so avoid internal uncertainty about them. Second, the indifferent follow the campaign and the candidates, but see no differences between the candidates, leaving internal uncertainty about them. Third, the dissatisfied know a good deal about the campaign context and the candidates but see one or more candidates negatively. They too do not vote because internal uncertainty about the candidates remains unresolved. Finally, the personal hardship nonvoters pay attention to the campaign and the candidates but do not vote because of personal hardship associated with unemployment. The paper first considers broad differences between voters and nonvoters in their knowledge of politics and attitudes toward elections. It then estimates a model of nonvoting across the time period. Finally, it considers in greater detail the four different types of nonvoters, who they are, and what motivates them not to participate. The study finds that at the presidential level, there are considerable numbers of dissatisfied nonvoters who do not vote because they have negative views of one or both candidates. At the midterm level, nonvoters are more likely to be politically indifferent, not having clear-cut views of one or both candidates.
    Keywords: elections, participation, uncertainty
    Date: 2017–05
  9. By: Michael Bailey; Ruiqing (Rachel) Cao; Theresa Kuchler; Johannes Stroebel; Arlene Wong
    Abstract: We introduce a new measure of social connectedness between U.S. county-pairs, as well as between U.S. counties and foreign countries. Our measure, which we call the "Social Connectedness Index" (SCI), is based on the number of friendship links on Facebook, the world's largest online social networking service. Within the U.S., social connectedness is strongly decreasing in geographic distance between counties: for the population of the average county, 62.8% of friends live within 100 miles. The populations of counties with more geographically dispersed social networks are generally richer, more educated, and have a higher life expectancy. Region-pairs that are more socially connected have higher trade flows, even after controlling for geographic distance and the similarity of regions along other economic and demographic measures. Higher social connectedness is also associated with more cross-county migration and patent citations. Social connectedness between U.S. counties and foreign countries is correlated with past migration patterns, with social connectedness decaying in the time since the primary migration wave from that country. Trade with foreign countries is also strongly related to social connectedness. These results suggest that the SCI captures an important role of social networks in facilitating both economic and social interactions. Our findings also highlight the potential for the SCI to mitigate the measurement challenges that pervade empirical research on the role of social interactions across the social sciences.
    JEL: D1 E0 F1 I1 J6 O3
    Date: 2017–07
  10. By: Antonio Jiménez-Martínez (Division of Economics, CIDE)
    Abstract: This paper considers a population of agents that are connected through a network that allows them to aggregate locally their pieces of private information about some uncertain (exogenous) parameter of interest. The agents wish to match their actions to the true value of the parameter and to the actions of the other agents. I ask how the design of (interim) efficient (minimally connected) networks depends on the level of complementarity in the agents’ actions. When the level of complementarity is either low or high, efficient networks are characterized by a high number of different neighborhoods and, as a consequence, by low levels of connectivity. For intermediate levels of complementarity in actions, efficient networks tend to feature low numbers of highly connected neighborhoods. The implications of this paper are relevant in security environments where agents are naturally interpreted as analysts who try to forecast the value of a parameter that describes a potential threat to security.
    Keywords: Networks, information aggregation, beauty-contests, strategic complementarity, efficiency
    JEL: C72 D83 D84 D85
    Date: 2016–10
  11. By: Rene J.R. van den Brink (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Tinbergen Institute, The Netherlands); Agnieszka Rusinowska (Paris School of Economics -- CNRS, University Paris 1)
    Abstract: In this paper, we connect the social network theory on centrality measures to the economic theory of preferences and utility. Using the fact that networks form a special class of cooperative TU-games, we provide a foundation for the degree measure as a von Neumann-Morgenstern expected utility function reflecting preferences over being in different positions in different networks. The famous degree measure assigns to every position in a weighted network the sum of the weights of all links with its neighbours. A crucial property of a preference relation over network positions is neutrality to ordinary risk. If a preference relation over network positions satisfies this property and some regularity properties, then it must be represented by a utility function that is a multiple of the degree centrality measure. We show this in three steps. First, we characterize the degree measure as a centrality measure for weighted networks using four natural axioms. Second, we relate these network centrality axioms to properties of preference relations over positions in networks. Third, we show that the expected utility function is equal to a multiple of the degree measure if and only if it represents a regular preference relation that is neutral to ordinary risk. Similarly, we characterize a class of affine combinations of the outdegree and indegree measure in weighted directed networks and deliver its interpretation as a von Neumann-Morgenstern expected utility function.
    Keywords: Weighted network; network centrality; utility function; degree centrality; von Neumann-Morgenstern expected utility function; cooperative TU-game; weighted directed network.
    JEL: D81 D85 C02
    Date: 2017–07–25
  12. By: Rodríguez Justicia, David
    Abstract: While the determinants of tax morale have been widely studied in the literature, surprisingly, the fundamental influence of education on tax morale has yet to be investigated. Given the insights in the psychological and political science literature about the role of education in the formation of social values, in this paper, we analyze two channels through which education shapes tax morale. We find that while the tax morale of individuals that are net receivers of welfare state benefits increases with their educational level, it decreases with educational level among those who are net contributors. Furthermore, our results indicate that the more highly educated, who have been shown to be better able to assess information in the media on public affairs, exhibit higher levels of tax morale in countries that have better quality public services, a fairer tax system and more transparent institutions. JEL classification: H26; H52; I25 Key words: Tax morale; Tax compliance; Education; Welfare state benefits; Trust in public institutions
    Keywords: Frau fiscal, Educació moral, Educació i desenvolupament, 336 - Finances. Banca. Moneda. Borsa, 37 - Educació. Ensenyament. Formació. Temps lliure,
    Date: 2017
  13. By: Friehe, Tim; Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah
    Abstract: Low self-control is considered a fundamental cause of crime. The aim of our study is to provide causal evidence on the link between self-control and criminal behavior. We test whether individuals with lower self-control behave in a more antisocial manner and are less risk-averse and thus are, according to both the General Theory of Crime and the economic literature on criminal behavior, more likely to engage in criminal activities. In order to exogenously vary the level of self-control in a laboratory experiment, we use a wellestablished experimental manipulation, a so-called depletion task. We find that subjects with low self-control take more risk. The effect of self-control on antisocial behavior is small and not significant. In sum, our findings are consistent with the proposition that low selfcontrol is a facilitator of crime to the extent that individuals with lower levels of self-control are less effectively deterred by probabilistic sanctions.
    Keywords: self-control,risk taking,antisocial behavior,criminal behavior,ego-depletion,experiment
    JEL: C91 D03 K42
    Date: 2017

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.
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