nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2017‒11‒19
thirteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Where do fairness preferences come from? Norm transmission in a teen friendship network By David Hugh-Jones; Jinnie Ool
  2. Tax morale and the role of social norms and reciprocity: Evidence from a randomized survey experiment By Doerrenberg, Philipp; Peichl, Andreas
  3. Civic capital and support for the welfare state By Cerqueti, Roy; Sabatini, Fabio; Ventura, Marco
  4. Urban Interactions By Kim, Jun Sung; Patacchini, Eleonora; Picard, Pierre M; Zenou, Yves
  5. Deviant or Wrong? The Effects of Norm Information on the Efficacy of Punishment By Cristina Bicchieri; Eugen Dimant; Erte Xiao
  6. Tax Morale and Policy Intervention By Nordblom, Katarina
  7. Internet and Politics: Evidence from U.K. Local Elections and Local Government Policies By Alessandro Gavazza; Mattia Nardotto; Tommaso M. Valletti
  8. The Impact of Social Media On Belief Formation By Schwarz, Marco A.
  9. Humans reciprocate intentional harm by discriminating against group peers By David Hugh-Jones; Itay Ron; Ro'i Zultan
  10. Cooperation and Punishment: The Individual-Level Perspective By Felix Albrecht; Sebastian Kube; Christian Traxler
  11. Peer sanctioning in isomorphic provision and appropriation social dilemmas By Abhijit Ramalingam; Antonio J. Morales; James M. Walker
  12. Giving in dictator games: Experimenter demand effect or preference over the rules of the game? By Nadine Chlass; Peter G. Moffatt
  13. The role of morals in three-player ultimatum games By Sandro Casal; Francesco Fallucchi; Simone Quercia

  1. By: David Hugh-Jones (University of East Anglia); Jinnie Ool (University of East Anglia)
    Abstract: People's preferences about the fair distribution of resources vary within and between different populations, and this affects many economic and political outcomes. We argue that a source of these differences is the social transmission of fairness norms from peers during adolescence. We ran an experiment on transmission of fairness norms in a friendship network of 11-15 year olds. Observing others' choices affects young people's fairness norms, as expressed in both their own choices and the attitudes they express. Our results show how young people can adopt redistributive norms via the social influence of their peer group. We also examine how the strength of social influence varies with friendship status and network position.
    Date: 2017–06–02
  2. By: Doerrenberg, Philipp; Peichl, Andreas
    Abstract: We present the first randomized survey experiment in the context of tax compliance to assess the role of social norms and reciprocity for intrinsic tax morale. We find that participants in a reciprocity treatment have significantly higher tax morale than those in a social-norm treatment. This suggests that a potential backfire effect of social norms is outweighed if the consequences of violating the social norm are made salient. We further document the anatomy of intrinsic motivations for tax compliance and present first evidence that previously found gender effects in tax morale are not driven by differences in risk preferences.
    Keywords: Tax compliance,Tax evasion,Intrinsic motivations,Tax morale,Social norms,Reciprocity
    JEL: H20 H32 H50 C93
    Date: 2017
  3. By: Cerqueti, Roy; Sabatini, Fabio; Ventura, Marco
    Abstract: We model how the interplay between tax surveillance institutions and civic capital shapes taxpayers' support for welfare state. We show that, when tax surveillance is tight, rational civic-minded individuals express greater support for welfare spending than uncivic ones. We provide empirical evidence of these preferences using data from Italy, a country that has long posed a puzzle for public economists for its limited civic capital and large welfare state.
    Keywords: welfare state,redistribution,tax surveillance,trust,civic capital,social capital
    Date: 2017
  4. By: Kim, Jun Sung; Patacchini, Eleonora; Picard, Pierre M; Zenou, Yves
    Abstract: This paper studies social-tie formation when individuals care about the geographical location of other individuals. In our model, the intensity of social interactions can be chosen at the same time as friends. We characterize the equilibrium in terms of both social interactions and social capital (the value of social interactions offered by each agent) for a general distribution of individuals in the urban geographical space. We show that greater geographical dispersion decreases the incentives to socially interact. We also show that the equilibrium frequency of interactions is lower than the effcient one. Using a unique geo-coded dataset of friendship networks among adolescents in the United States, we estimate the model and validate that agents interact less than the social first best optimum. Our policy analysis suggests that, given the same cost, subsidizing social interactions yields a higher total welfare than subsidizing transportation costs.
    Keywords: policies.; Social interactions; urban economic
    JEL: R1 R23 Z13
    Date: 2017–11
  5. By: Cristina Bicchieri (University of Pennsylvania); Eugen Dimant (University of Pennsylvania); Erte Xiao (Monash University)
    Abstract: A stream of research examining the effect of punishment on conformity indicates that punishment can backfire and lead to suboptimal social outcomes. In such studies, the enforcement of a behavioral rule to cooperate originates from a single party. This feature may raise concern about the legitimacy of the rule and thereby make it easy for the agents to take a penalty and excuse their selfish behavior. We address the question of punishment legitimacy in our experiment by shedding light upon the importance of social norms and their interplay with punishment mechanisms. We show that the separate enforcement mechanisms of punishment and norms cannot achieve higher cooperation rates. In fact, conformity is significantly increased only in those cases when social norms and punishment are combined, but only when cooperation is cheap. Interestingly, when cooperation is expensive we find that the combination of punishment and empirical information about others conformity can also have traceable detrimental effects on conformity levels. Our results have important implications for researchers and practitioners alike.
    Keywords: Conformity, Experiments, Punishment, Social Norms, Trust Game
    Date: 2017
  6. By: Nordblom, Katarina (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: This paper deals with tax morale and how norms may evolve over time. The special focus is on buying black-market services. I apply mechanisms from social psychology to explain how personal norms may evolve due to one's own past behavior through self-signaling and due to conformity based on social interactions. These changes over time result in multiple equilibria, so that the economy can develop stronger social norms and less evasion over time, or weaker norms and more evasion in the long run. An economy on a trajectory toward the “bad” equilibrium may be permanently pushed onto a trajectory toward the “good” equilibrium by means of a suffciently strong temporary policy. Observations from a recent tax reform in Sweden strongly support the theory and suggest that other policies than enforcement may indeed be a powerful tool in inuencing both behavior and attitudes.
    Keywords: Social norms; Endogenous norms; Tax evasion; Self-signaling; Normative conformity.
    JEL: D91 H26
    Date: 2017–11
  7. By: Alessandro Gavazza; Mattia Nardotto; Tommaso M. Valletti
    Abstract: We empirically study the effects of broadband internet diffusion on local election outcomes and on local government policies using rich data from the U.K. Our analysis suggests that the internet has displaced other media with greater news content (i.e., radio and newspapers), thereby decreasing voter turnout, most notably among less-educated and younger individuals. In turn, we find suggestive evidence that local government expenditures and taxes are lower in areas with greater broadband diffusion, particularly expenditures targeted at less-educated voters. Our findings are consistent with the idea that voters’ information plays a key role in determining electoral participation, government policies and government size.
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2017
  8. By: Schwarz, Marco A. (University of Innsbruck)
    Abstract: Social media are becoming increasingly important in our society and change the way people communicate, how they acquire information, and how they form beliefs. Experts are concerned that the rise of social media may make interaction and information exchange among like-minded individuals more pronounced and therefore lead to increased disagreement in a society. This paper analyzes a learning model with endogenous network formation in which people have different types and live in different regions. I show that when the importance of social media increases, the amount of disagreement in the society first decreases and then increases. Simultaneously people of the same type hold increasingly similar beliefs. Furthermore, people who find it hard to communicate with people in the same region may interact with similar people online and consequently hold extreme beliefs. Finally, I propose a simple way to model people who neglect a potential correlation of signals and show that these people may be made worse off by social media.
    Keywords: social media; network formation; social learning; polarization; homophily; correlation neglect;
    JEL: C72 D72 D83 D85 Z10 Z19
    Date: 2017–11–09
  9. By: David Hugh-Jones (University of East Anglia); Itay Ron; Ro'i Zultan (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)
    Abstract: Cycles of intergroup revenge appear in large scale conflicts. We experimentally test the hypothesis that humans practice group-based reciprocity: if someone harms or helps them, they harm or help other members of that person's group. Subjects played a trust game, then allocated money between other people. Senders whose partners returned more in the trust game gave more to that partner's group members. The effect was about half as large as the effect of direct reciprocity. Receivers' allocations to group members were not affected by their partners' play in the trust game, suggesting that group reciprocity was only triggered when the partner’s intentions were unequivocal.
    Keywords: upstream reciprocity, group identity, intergroup conflict
    Date: 2017
  10. By: Felix Albrecht; Sebastian Kube; Christian Traxler
    Abstract: We explore the relationship between individuals’ disposition to cooperate and their inclination to engage in peer punishment as well as their relative importance for mitigating social dilemmas. Using a novel strategy-method approach we identify individual punishment patterns and link them with individual cooperation patterns. Classifying N = 628 subjects along these two dimensions documents that cooperation and punishment patterns are intuitively aligned for most individuals. However, the data also reveal a sizable share of free-riders that punish pro-socially and conditional cooperators that do not engage in punishment. Analyzing the interplay between types in an additional experiment, we show that pro-social punishers are more crucial for achieving cooperation than conditional cooperators. Incorporating information on punishment types explains large amounts of the between and within group variation in cooperation.
    Keywords: strategy method, punishment patterns, type classification, conditional cooperation, public-goods game
    JEL: C90 D03
    Date: 2016
  11. By: Abhijit Ramalingam (University of East Anglia); Antonio J. Morales (University of Malaga); James M. Walker (Indiana University)
    Abstract: This study brings together two strands of experimental literature, positive versus negative frames of social dilemmas and the effectiveness of peer sanctioning in promoting cooperation. Examining provision and appropriation games that are strategically and payoff isomorphic, we find evidence of less cooperation in the appropriation game. We also find that peer sanctioning is able to overcome the decrease in cooperation in the appropriation game, leading to greater relative increases in contributions and earnings in that decision setting. This result is linked to the fact that low contributors are targeted for punishment more frequently in the appropriation game. All the experimental findings are compatible with the existence of reciprocal preferences a la Cox, Friedman and Sadiraj (2008).
    Keywords: social dilemma, experiment, provision, appropriation, cooperation, punishment, reciprocal preferences
    JEL: C72 C91 C92 D02 H41
    Date: 2017–04–11
  12. By: Nadine Chlass (University of Jena); Peter G. Moffatt (University of East Anglia)
    Abstract: Which preference underlies giving in dictator games? To date, the experimental evidence has either been interpreted as a preference over the distribution of pay-offs, or as an experimenter demand effect. We show that under strict dictator-dictator as well as strict dictator-recipient anonymity, giving in dictator games springs from a preference over the distribution of decision rights. In contrast, concerns which trigger experimenter demand (Andreoni and Bernheim 2009) are negatively correlated with dictator game giving. Our experiments cover a series of dictator game variants which have sparked the experimenter demand debate. In addition, we identify the sets of ethical ideals that dictators em-ploy to derive the 'right' course of action in a formal moral judgement test and model dictator transfers econometrically by means of dictators' actual ethical ideals. Our results explain the lion’s share of results from the literature: lower transfers when dictators earn the pie (Cherry et al. 2002); lower transfers when 'take' options are available (List 2007; Bardsley 2008); lower transfers when anonymity is lifted (Hoffmann et al. 1994); generous dictators consistently pre-ferring to avoid the game altogether, if given the option (Lazear et al. 2012), and findings that social norms and beliefs cause dictator transfers (Krupka and Weber 2013; Di Tella et al. 2015; Kimbrough and Vostroknutov 2015).
    Keywords: altruism, dictator games, moral judgement, experimenter demand effect, equality of decision rights, purely procedural preferences
    JEL: C91 D63 D64
    Date: 2017–07–03
  13. By: Sandro Casal (University of Milan); Francesco Fallucchi (University of East Anglia); Simone Quercia (University of Bonn)
    Abstract: We experimentally investigate the role of responders' moral concerns in three-player ultimatum bargaining. In our experiment, proposers can increase their share of the pie at the expenses of an NGO that conducts humanitarian aid in emergency areas. We find that responders are not willing to engage in 'immoral' transactions only when fully informed about proposers' behavior toward the NGO. Under complete information, their willingness to reject offers increases with the strength of the harm to the NGO. Moreover, the possibility to nullify the effects of the negative externality through rejection further increases their willingness to reject. We show that the latter result is better explained by a model of consequentialist moral concerns toward the NGO rather than deontological morality about own actions.
    Keywords: three-player ultimatum game, moral reasoning, experiment
    JEL: C72 C91 D6
    Date: 2017–05–10

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