nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2017‒11‒12
ten papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Creating an efficient culture of cooperation By Ernst Fehr; Tony Williams
  2. The accuracy of measures of institutional trust in household surveys: Evidence from the oecd trust database By Santiago González; Conal Smith
  3. Roots of Autocracy By Oded Galor; Marc P. B. Klemp
  4. Nudging Generosity: Choice Architecture and Cognitive Factors in Charitable Giving By Schulz, Jonathan F.; Thiemann, Petra; Thöni, Christian
  5. I (Don't) Like You! But Who Cares? Gender Differences in Same Sex and Mixed Sex Teams By Leonie Gerhards; Michael Kosfeld
  6. Laws and Norms: Experimental Evidence with Liability Rules By Bruno Deffains; Claude Fluet; Romain Espinosa
  7. An experimental test of reporting systems for deception By Sascha Behnk; Iván Barreda-Tarrazona; Aurora García-Gallego
  8. Exposition to Corruption and Political Participation: Evidence from Italian Municipalities By Tommaso Giommoni
  9. Beyond "Social Contagion": Associational Diffusion and the Emergence of Cultural Variation By Goldberg, Amir; Stein, Sarah K.
  10. Working, Volunteering and Mental Health in the Later Years By Mosca, Irene; Wright, Robert E.

  1. By: Ernst Fehr; Tony Williams
    Abstract: Throughout human history, informal sanctions by peers were ubiquitous and played a key role in the enforcement of social norms and the provision of public goods. However, a considerable body of evidence suggests that informal peer sanctions cause large collateral damage and efficiency costs. This raises the question whether peer sanctioning systems exist that avoid these costs and whether other, more centralized, punishment systems are superior and will be preferred by the people. Here, we show that efficient peer sanctioning without much need for costly punishment emerges quickly if we introduce two relevant features of social life into the experiment: (i) subjects can migrate across groups with different sanctioning institutions and (ii) they have the chance to achieve consensus about normatively appropriate behavior. We also show that subjects universally reject peer sanctioning without a norm consensus opportunity –an institution that has hitherto dominated research in this field – in favor of our efficient peer sanctioning institution or an equally efficient institution where they delegate the power to sanction to an elected judge. Migration opportunities and normative consensus building are key to the quick emergence of an efficient culture of universal cooperation because the more prosocial subjects populate the two efficient institutions first, elect prosocial judges (if institutionally possible), and immediately establish a social norm of high cooperation. This norm appears to guide subjects’ cooperation and punishment choices, including the virtually complete removal of antisocial punishment when judges make the sanctioning decision.
    Keywords: Cooperation, punishment, endogenous institutions, public goods
    JEL: D02 D03 D72 H41
    Date: 2017–10
  2. By: Santiago González (OECD); Conal Smith (OECD)
    Abstract: A key policy concern in recent years has been the decline in levels of trust by citizen in public institutions. Trust is one of the foundations upon which the legitimacy and sustainability of political systems are built. It is crucial to the implementation of a wide range of policies and influences people’s behavioural responses to such policies. However, despite its acknowledged importance, trust in public institutions is poorly understood and is not consistently measured across OECD countries. The OECD Trust Database brings together information from a wide range of different household surveys containing measures of trust and combines this with information on other social and economic outcomes. The size of the database and range of covariates make it possible to identify the underlying patterns captured by survey based measures of trust in institutions and systematically test the accuracy (i.e. reliability and validity) of these measures. Reliability is tested by examining the consistency of measures of institutional trust across different surveys and between different waves of the same survey. Validity is harder to test than reliability. It is however possible to examine the construct validity of institutional trust measures by looking at whether these measures show the expected correlation with other social and economic variables on a cross-country basis. Analysis of item-specific non-response rates provides important additional information on the face validity of institutional trust measures.
    Keywords: accuracy, government, household surveys, reliability, trust
    JEL: A13 C46 H11 H83
    Date: 2017–11–07
  3. By: Oded Galor; Marc P. B. Klemp
    Abstract: Exploiting a novel geo-referenced data set of population diversity across ethnic groups, this research advances the hypothesis and empirically establishes that variation in population diversity across human societies, as determined in the course of the exodus of human from Africa tens of thousands of years ago, contributed to the di↵erential formation of pre-colonial autocratic institutions within ethnic groups and the emergence of autocratic institutions across countries. Diversity has amplified the importance of institutions in mitigating the adverse e↵ects of non-cohesiveness on productivity, while contributing to the scope for domination, leading to the formation of institutions of the autocratic type.
    Keywords: autocracy, economic growth, diversity, institutions, out-of-Africa hypothesis of comparative development
    JEL: O10 O43 Z10
    Date: 2017
  4. By: Schulz, Jonathan F. (Harvard University); Thiemann, Petra (Lund University); Thöni, Christian (University of Lausanne)
    Abstract: In an experimental setup we investigate the effect of two different choice architectures on donation decisions. In the treatment group, subjects can either specify a charity of their choice, or select one from a list of five well-known charities; in the control group we do not provide a list. In a sample of 869 subjects we find a large treatment effect: Offering a list of default charities doubles the fraction of donors, as well as the revenue for charities. We find that the treatment intervention particularly affects subjects who tend to make intuitive choices.
    Keywords: charitable giving, donation, choice architecture, defaults, affective reactions
    JEL: C93 D64 H41 L3
    Date: 2017–10
  5. By: Leonie Gerhards; Michael Kosfeld
    Abstract: We study the effect of likability on female and male team behavior in a lab experiment. Extending a two-player public goods game and a minimum effort game by an additional pre-play stage that informs team members about their mutual likability we find that female teams lower their contribution to the public good in case of low likability, while male teams achieve high levels of cooperation irrespective of the level of mutual likability. In mixed sex teams, both females’ and males’ contributions depend on mutual likability. Similar results are found in the minimum effort game. Our results offer a new perspective on gender differences in labor market outcomes: mutual dislikability impedes team behavior, except in all-male teams.
    Keywords: gender differences, likability, experiment, team behavior
    JEL: C90 J16
    Date: 2017
  6. By: Bruno Deffains; Claude Fluet; Romain Espinosa
    Abstract: We conduct an experiment where participants choose between actions that provide private benefits but may also impose losses on strangers. Three legal environments are compared: no law, strict liability for the harm caused to others and an efficiently designed negligence rule where damages are paid only when the harmful action causes a net social loss. Legal obligations are either perfectly enforced (Severe Law) or only weakly so (Mild Law), i.e.,material incentives are then nondeterrent. We investigate how legal obligations and social norms interact. Our results show that liability rules strengthen pro-social behavior and suggest that strict liability has a greater effect than the negligence rule.
    JEL: C91 K13 D03
    Date: 2017–10–30
  7. By: Sascha Behnk (Department of Banking and Finance, University of Zurich, Switzerland); Iván Barreda-Tarrazona (LEE and Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain); Aurora García-Gallego (LEE and Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain)
    Abstract: We use a repeated sender-receiver game in which sender behavior is revealed to future counterparts by (i) standardized computer reports or by (ii) individual reports composed by the receivers, representing a common form of consumer feedback. Compared to our baseline without reporting, computer reports reduce deception in all payoff scenarios while the effect of individually written reports is lower and in some scenarios only marginal. This comparably weaker impact can be explained by the senders’ anticipation of a high number of missing or deficient receiver reports that we find. We conclude that the precision of a reporting system has a higher importance for reducing deception than its personal character via individual feedback. Surprisingly, the reliability of computer reports is not correctly anticipated by receivers, who trust individually written reports more in the beginning and hence seem to back the wrong horse initially.
    Keywords: deception, trust, reporting systems, reputation, experiment
    JEL: D03 D63 K42
    Date: 2017
  8. By: Tommaso Giommoni
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is to study the effect of local corruption on political participation which is mediated by the press. Focusing on Italy, we generate a daily measure of exposition to local corruption screening articles of main Italian press agency. Applying an event-study methodology on local elections, two results emerge. First, corruption exposition reduces citizens participation: voter turnout decreases but characteristics of elected politicians are not affected; second, politicians participation modifies: number of candidates lowers along with proportion of running freshmen. These results suggest that corruption exposition produces resignation rather than retaliation in terms of political participation.
    Keywords: corruption, media, turnout, political selection, electoral competition
    JEL: D72 D73 H70 K42
    Date: 2017
  9. By: Goldberg, Amir (Stanford University); Stein, Sarah K. (Stanford University)
    Abstract: Network models of diffusion predominantly think about cultural variation as a product of "social contagion." But culture does not spread like a virus. In this paper, we propose an alternative explanation which we refer to as "associational diffusion." Drawing on two insights from research in cognition--that meaning inheres in cognitive associations between concepts, and that such perceived associations constrain people's actions--we suggest that rather than beliefs or behaviors per-se, the things being transmitted between individuals are perceptions about what beliefs or behaviors are compatible with one another. We demonstrate that the endogenous emergence of cultural differentiation can be entirely attributable to social cognition, and does not necessitate a segregated social network or a preexisting division into groups. Our results are robust to variation in individuals' levels of conformity.
    Date: 2017–05
  10. By: Mosca, Irene (Trinity College Dublin); Wright, Robert E. (University of Strathclyde)
    Abstract: This paper examines the effect that working for pay and volunteering has on the mental health of older Irish women and men. Data from four waves of The Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (TILDA) are used. Three measures that capture different dimensions of mental health are considered. Ordinary least squares regression estimates suggest that both working for pay and volunteering have statistically significant and substantially large positive effects on mental health. However, these effects are less well defined when fixed effects regression is used. The analysis also suggests that combining working for pay with volunteering is more beneficial in terms of mental health than either working for pay or volunteering on their own. That is, there is something "extra" from engaging in both activities. The estimates also suggest a possible trade-off between working for pay and volunteering in terms of mental health benefits. Volunteering may be a "good mental health substitute" for working for pay. The extent of this substitutability is particularly important amongst older people, since participation in paid employment decreases while volunteering increases in older age. Higher levels of volunteering may compensate for the mental health loss associated with lower levels of working for pay. If this is the case, policies that promote volunteering may be cost-effective if they result in higher levels of self-sufficiency amongst older people.
    Keywords: mental health, working, volunteering, older people
    JEL: I12 J14 J22
    Date: 2017–10

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