nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2017‒08‒27
eight papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Assam riots in India in 1980s: Examining the behavioural outcomes By Asad Islam; Ratul Mahanta
  2. Testing for Peer Effects Using Genetic Data By John Cawley; Euna Han; Jiyoon (June) Kim; Edward C. Norton
  3. Fake News in Social Networks By Christoph Aymanns; Jakob Foerster; Co-Pierre Georg
  4. Collective Action, White Flight, and the Origins of Formal Segregation Laws By Werner Troesken; Randall Walsh
  5. Divided We Stand: Immigration Attitudes, Identity, and Subjective Well-Being By Heinz Welsch; Jan Kuehling
  6. Co-operation, institutional quality and management outcome in community based micro hydro schemes in Kenya By Mary Karumba; Edwin Muchapondwa
  7. God insures those who pay?Formal insurance and religious offerings in Ghana By Auriol, Emmanuelle; Lassebie, Julie; Panin, Amma; Raiber, Eva; Seabright, Paul
  8. Economic Origins of Cultural Norms: The Case of Animal Husbandry and Bastardy By Christoph Eder; Martin Halla

  1. By: Asad Islam; Ratul Mahanta
    Abstract: We conduct a lab-in-the-field experiment to examine the long-term effects of riots in Assam in India on a range of economic and behavioural outcomes. We find that individuals who live in the villages that have been heavily and moderately affected by riots are more trustworthy, more likely to be competitive and have higher levels of self-confidence under competitive situations. They exhibit more anti-social preferences but are less likely to be dishonest than individuals in the unaffected areas. The estimates are stronger and more often statistically significant when considering heavily affected areas than moderately affected areas - suggesting stronger influence on those who were directly exposed to or experienced the riots. Using survey measures, we observe that individuals in areas that were heavily exposed to riots have higher levels of trust, higher tendency toward altruism, and lower memory capacity.
    Keywords: riot, Assam, risk, trust, field experiments
    JEL: C91 C93 D74 D81 O12
    Date: 2017–08–14
  2. By: John Cawley; Euna Han; Jiyoon (June) Kim; Edward C. Norton
    Abstract: Estimating peer effects is notoriously difficult because of the reflection problem and the endogeneity of peer group formation. This paper tests for peer effects in obesity in a novel way that addresses these challenges. It addresses the reflection problem by using the alter’s genetic risk score for obesity, which is a significant predictor of obesity, is determined prior to birth, and cannot be affected by the behavior of others. It addresses the endogeneity of peer group formation by examining peers who are not self-selected: full siblings. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, we find evidence of positive peer effects in weight and obesity; having a sibling with a high genetic predisposition raises one’s risk of obesity, even controlling for one’s own genetic predisposition to obesity. Implications of the findings include that peer effects may be an explanation for continued worldwide increases in weight, and that, because of social multipliers, the cost-effectiveness of obesity treatment and prevention programs may have been underestimated.
    JEL: D1 I1 I12 I18 J1 Z18
    Date: 2017–08
  3. By: Christoph Aymanns; Jakob Foerster; Co-Pierre Georg
    Abstract: We model the spread of news as a social learning game on a network. Agents can either endorse or oppose a claim made in a piece of news, which itself may be either true or false. Agents base their decision on a private signal and their neighbors' past actions. Given these inputs, agents follow strategies derived via multi-agent deep reinforcement learning and receive utility from acting in accordance with the veracity of claims. Our framework yields strategies with agent utility close to a theoretical, Bayes optimal benchmark, while remaining flexible to model re-specification. Optimized strategies allow agents to correctly identify most false claims, when all agents receive unbiased private signals. However, an adversary's attempt to spread fake news by targeting a subset of agents with a biased private signal can be successful. Even more so when the adversary has information about agents' network position or private signal. When agents are aware of the presence of an adversary they re-optimize their strategies in the training stage and the adversary's attack is less effective. Hence, exposing agents to the possibility of fake news can be an effective way to curtail the spread of fake news in social networks. Our results also highlight that information about the users' private beliefs and their social network structure can be extremely valuable to adversaries and should be well protected.
    Date: 2017–08
  4. By: Werner Troesken; Randall Walsh
    Abstract: This paper develops and tests a simple model to explain the origins of municipal segregation ordinances. Passed by cities between 1909 and 1917, these ordinances prohibited members of the majority racial group on a given city block from selling or renting property to members of another racial group. Our results suggest that prior to these laws cities had created and sustained residential segregation through private norms and vigilante activity. Only when these private arrangements began to break down during the early 1900s did whites start lobbying municipal governments for segregation ordinances.
    JEL: H1 K11 N32 N92 R14 R31
    Date: 2017–08
  5. By: Heinz Welsch (University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics); Jan Kuehling (University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics A)
    Abstract: : Immigration is a crucial issue in contemporary politics, and attitudes towards immigration are highly dispersed in many countries. We treat individuals’ immigration friendliness (IF) as a feature of their self-image or identity and hypothesize that, similar to other pro-social self-images, greater immigration friendliness is associated with greater subjective well-being (SWB). We further hypothesize that greater disparity of immigration attitudes yields social antagonism and as such is associated with less SWB. Finally, we hypothesize that greater disparity of immigration attitudes permits immigration-friendly individuals to differentiate themselves from others, thus raising the SWB benefit of holding an immigration-friendly self- image. Using 225,356 observations from 35 European countries, 2002-2015, we find evidence consistent with the hypotheses stated above. A 1-standard-deviation (SD) increase in IF is associated with an increase in 11-point life satisfaction (LS) by 0.15 to 0.32 points, whereas a 1-SD increase in attitude disparity is associated with a decrease in LS by 0.05 to 0.11 points.
    Keywords: immigration; attitudes; identity; antagonism; social conflict; subjective well-being
    Date: 2017–08
  6. By: Mary Karumba; Edwin Muchapondwa
    Abstract: Community based micro hydro grids in developing countries have characteristics like those of man-made common pool resources like irrigation commons. While empirical testing of the conditions that enable collective participation and subsequent successful self-governance within irrigation commons and other CPRs is widely studied, there is very limited analysis of enabling conditions for energy commons. This study contributes towards the study of CPR management by identifying individual characteristics that influence their participation levels in such energy commons, and secondly interrogates the role of institutional arrangements and other relevant conditions in predicting management outcome in self-governed micro hydro schemes in Kenya. The findings indicate that more education; trust for peers and higher allowance for electricity increase cooperation among users. Additional relevant conditions such as higher installed capacity, bigger groups and having clearly defined boundary of users also seem to increase the chances of success in self-governed micro hydro schemes in this study.
    Keywords: Collective action, Participation; Institutions, Micro hydro schemes
    Date: 2017–08
  7. By: Auriol, Emmanuelle; Lassebie, Julie; Panin, Amma; Raiber, Eva; Seabright, Paul
    Abstract: This paper presents experimental evidence exploring how insurance might be a motive for religious donations by members of a Pentecostal church in Ghana. We ran- domize enrollment into a commercially available funeral insurance policy and let church members allocate money between themselves and a set of religious goods in a series of dictator games with significant stakes. Members enrolled in insurance give significantly less money to their own churches. At the same time, enrollment in insurance reduces giving towards other spiritual goods. We set up a model exploring different channels of religious based insurance. The implications of the model and the results of the dictator games suggest that adherents perceive the church as a source of insurance and that this insurance is derived from beliefs in an interventionist God. Survey results suggest that community-based material insurance is also important and we hypothesize that these two insurance channels exist in parallel.
    Keywords: economics of religion; informal insurance; charitable giving
    JEL: D14 G22 O12 O17
    Date: 2017–07
  8. By: Christoph Eder; Martin Halla
    Abstract: This paper explores the historical origins of the cultural norm regarding illegitimacy (formerly known as bastardy). We test the hypothesis that traditional agricultural production structures influenced the historical illegitimacy ratio, and have had a lasting effect until today. Based on data from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and modern Austria, we show that regions that focused on animal husbandry (as compared to crop farming) had significantly higher illegitimacy ratios in the past, and female descendants of these societies are still more likely to approve illegitimacy and give birth outside of marriage today. To establish causality, we exploit, within an IV approach, variation in the local agricultural suitability, which determined the historical dominance of animal husbandry. Since differences in the agricultural production structure are completely obsolete in today's economy, we suggest interpreting the persistence in revealed and stated preferences as a cultural norm. Complementary evidence from an `epidemiological approach' suggests that this norm is passed down through generations, and the family is the most important transmission channel. Our findings point to a more general phenomenon that cultural norms can be shaped by economic conditions, and may persist, even if economic conditions become irrelevant.
    Keywords: Cultural norms, persistence, animal husbandry, illegitimacy
    JEL: Z1 A13 J12 J13 J43 N33
    Date: 2017–08–16

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