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

  1. The Italian North-South Divide in Perceived Dishonesty: A Matter of Trust? By Giuseppe Attanasi; Alessandro Bucciol; Simona Cicognani; Natalia Montinari
  2. Migration, political institutions, and social networks By Catia Batista; Julia Seither; Pedro C. Vicente
  3. Migration Networks and Location Decisions: Evidence from U.S. Mass Migration By Bryan Stuart; Evan Taylor
  4. The co-evolution of tax evasion, social capital and policy responses: A theoretical approach By Luigi Bonatti; Lorenza Lorenzetti
  5. Civic capital and support for the welfare state By Roy Cerqueti; Fabio Sabatini; Marco Ventura
  6. Fairness and the unselfish demand for redistribution by taxpayers and welfare recipients By Fabio Sabatini; Marco Ventura; Eiji Yamamura; Luca Zamparelli
  7. The effect of time preferences on altruism By Davide Dottori; Caterina Giannetti
  8. Urban Interactions By Kim, Jun Sung; Patacchini, Eleonora; Picard, Pierre M.; Zenou, Yves
  9. Watch your Words: an Experimental Study on Communication and the Opportunity Cost of Delegation By Armenak Antinyan; Luca Corazzini; Elena D\'Agosotino; Filippo Pavesi
  10. Group meeting frequency and borrowers’ repayment performance in microfinance: Evidence from a quasi-natural experiment in South Africa By Lucia, Dalla Pellegrina; Angela, De Michele; Giorgio, Di Maio; Paolo, Landoni; Susanna, Parravicini;
  11. Religiosity may not be a panacea: Importance of prosociality to maintain humanitarian donations By Shibly Shahrier; Koji Kotani; Makoto Kakinaka

  1. By: Giuseppe Attanasi; Alessandro Bucciol; Simona Cicognani; Natalia Montinari
    Abstract: We present novel data on the perception of dishonesty in the public sector in Italy, from a survey we carried out in August 2017. They concern a sample of about 1,000 attendees at a mass-gathering music festival in Southern Italy, whose audience includes a relevant fraction of subjects residing in North Italy. The survey includes questions on perceived dishonesty at both an institutional and social dimension. We measure whether regional differences in the perception of dishonesty persist even when controlling for generalized trust, the quality of institutions at the regional level, as well as socio-demographic characteristics. We find that respondents from the North or living abroad perceive lower level of dishonesty in the public sector compared to respondents from the South. Once objective measures of corruption and governance at the regional level are accounted for, the geographical gap disappears, while generalized trust still matters. This evidence suggests that individual and geographic differences in generalized trust must be taken into account as they can affect the support for policy interventions aimed at reducing dishonesty in the public sector.
    Keywords: Cultural event; Corruption; Dishonest behavior; Generalized Trust; Italy.
    JEL: A13 D73 K42 Z13
    Date: 2017
  2. By: Catia Batista; Julia Seither; Pedro C. Vicente
    Abstract: What is the role of international migrants and, more specifically, of migrant networks in shaping the quality of political institutions in migrant sending countries? Our theory proposes that migration might change individual social identities and in this way intrinsic motivation for political participation, while it may also improve knowledge about better quality political institutions. Hence, international migration might increase political awareness and participation both by migrants and by other individuals in their networks. To test this hypothesis, this paper uses several survey and behavioral measures related to political participation and electoral knowledge. These data were purposely collected around the time of the 2009 elections in Mozambique. The empirical results show that the number of migrants an individual is in close contact through regular chatting within a village significantly increase political participation of residents in that village – more so than family links to migrants. Our findings are consistent with both improved knowledge about political processes, and increased intrinsic motivation for political participation being transmitted through migrant networks. JEL codes: D72, F22, O15
    Keywords: International migration, social networks, political participation, information, effects of emigration in origin countries, sub-Saharan Africa, Mozambique
    Date: 2017
  3. By: Bryan Stuart (George Washington University); Evan Taylor (University of Chicago)
    Abstract: This paper examines the effects of birth town migration networks on location decisions. We study over one million long-run location decisions made during two landmark migration episodes by African Americans from the U.S. South and whites from the Great Plains. We develop a new method to estimate the strength of migration networks for each receiving and sending location. Our estimates imply that when one randomly chosen African American moves from a birth town to a destination county, then 1.9 additional black migrants make the same move on average. For white migrants from the Great Plains, the average is only 0.4. Networks were particularly important in connecting black migrants with attractive employment opportunities and played a larger role in less costly moves.
    Keywords: migration networks, location decisions, social interactions, Great Migration
    JEL: J61 N32 O15 R23 Z13
    Date: 2017
  4. By: Luigi Bonatti; Lorenza Lorenzetti
    Abstract: The dynamic model presented in this paper intends to account for the evidence, which appears to be particularly significant for Italy, showing that the incidence of tax evasion in a certain region is negatively correlated to the level of social capital existing in the region. Beside including social capital among the determinants of tax evasion, we extend the model so as to incorporate a mechanism whereby a high level of tax evasion depresses the formation of social capital, thus helping to explain how regional differences in the endowment of social capital and in the incidence of tax evasion co-evolve and why they tend to be highly persistent. The model seeks also to capture the fact that in a democracy the political determination necessary to effectively repress tax evasion depends on the voters’ propensity toward the phenomenon. Indeed, one should expect that‒in areas where a relatively large (small) number of citizens are tax cheaters—the political consensus in favor of tough policies against tax evasion tends to be weak (strong) and short (long) lasting. Consistently with this intuition, the model shows that regions where social capital is relatively low and tax evasion is relatively high can do better in the long run (i.e., they can reach a steady state characterized by a higher level of social capital and a lower level of tax evasion) when tax-enforcement policies are determined at the national level rather than at the regional level. The opposite is true for regions where social capital is relatively high and tax evasion is relatively low.
    Keywords: Tax compliance, dynamic models, multiple equilibria, tax-enforcement policies
    JEL: C63 D53 G18
    Date: 2016
  5. By: Roy Cerqueti; Fabio Sabatini; Marco Ventura
    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.
    JEL: H10 H53 D63 D69 Z1
    Date: 2017–11–13
  6. By: Fabio Sabatini; Marco Ventura; Eiji Yamamura; Luca Zamparelli
    Abstract: We illustrate how the desire to live in a fair society that rewards individual effort and hard work triggers an unselfish though rational demand for redistribution. This leads the well off to prefer higher taxes and the poor to reject extreme progressivity. We then provide evidence of these behaviors using a nationally representative survey from Italy. Our empirical analysis confirms that a stronger aversion to unfair distributive outcomes is associated with a higher support for redistribution by individuals with high income and to a lower demand for redistribution by those with low income.
    Keywords: Fairness, income distribution, inequalities, taxation, welfare, redistribution, free-riding, civic capital, social capital.
    JEL: H10 H53 D63 D69 Z1
    Date: 2017–11–14
  7. By: Davide Dottori; Caterina Giannetti
    Abstract: We study the effect of time preference on donations relying on a panel dataset of Italian households. After developing an intertemporal model to derive theorethical implications on the relationship between impatience and altruistic donation, we address the issue empirically, relying on a quasiexperimental setting. We find that both the amount and the probability of donating (i.e. altruism) vary non linearly with impatience in intertemporal choice, eventually declining at higher level of impatience. Consistent with previous experimental evidence, these results support the view that psychological discounting matters for altruistic behaviour and, more in general, that individual parameters, often not directly observable, add up to tax policies to determine altruistic behaviours.
    Keywords: Two-limit Tobit, Generalized Propensity Score, Quasi-experiment, Altruism, Discounting
    JEL: C21 D03 D64
    Date: 2017–01–01
  8. By: Kim, Jun Sung (Monash University); Patacchini, Eleonora (Cornell University, USA); Picard, Pierre M. (CREA, University of Luxembourg); Zenou, Yves (Monash University, Australia)
    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 efficient 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: Urban economics; Social interactions; Social capital; Policies
    JEL: R10 R23 Z13
    Date: 2017–11–28
  9. By: Armenak Antinyan (International Academy of Business and Economics, Tianjin University of Finance and Economics); Luca Corazzini (Department of Economics, University of Venice \"Ca’ Foscari\"); Elena D\'Agosotino (Department of Economics (SEAM), University of Messina.); Filippo Pavesi (Department of Economics (University of Verona))
    Abstract: We consider a principal-agent relationship, and study the interplay between communication and the opportunity cost of delegation in influencing the principal’s choice to delegate and the agent’s propensity to prove worthy of trust. In order to this, we adopt a lost-wallet game in which the agent that wishes to be trusted can send a free-form message to his counterpart in the initial stage of the game. We find that communication is effective since it attenuates the effect of the opportunity cost of delegation on the principal’s choice. In particular, when the opportunity cost of delegation is high, communication increases beliefs on the amount that the agent will return in case of delegation. Moreover, we find that non-precise statements of intent are more frequent in the presence of lower opportunity costs of delegation, in which case we document an illusion effect: the agent incorrectly expects non-precise communication to exert positive effects on principal’s beliefs and her propensity to delegate.
    Keywords: Communication, Promises, Trust, Delegation, Guilt, Lost-Wallet Game, Language Precision
    JEL: C7 C9 D03 D8
    Date: 2017–12
  10. By: Lucia, Dalla Pellegrina; Angela, De Michele; Giorgio, Di Maio; Paolo, Landoni; Susanna, Parravicini;
    Abstract: A quasi-natural experiment has been carried out in which the Centre Meeting (CM) rules of some centres of a large Microfinance Institution (MFI) that offers microfinance services, in the form of group lending, were changed. The study has been carried out at the Small Enterprise Foundation (SEF), an MFI that operates in South Africa. The frequency of group meetings, organised as part of the “Monthly Centre Meetings†pilot programme, was reduced from bimonthly to monthly, and only one member per credit-group was asked to participate instead of all the group members. The purpose of these changes was to allow borrowers to save time to spend on their own economic activities. This new policy was put into force for one year, from May 2014 to the end of April 2015. After selecting a suitable control group of micro-borrowers, using Propensity Score Matching techniques, we ran difference-in-difference (DID) regressions to evaluate the impact of the policy changes on the client’s repayment and saving behaviour. The obtained estimates suggest that the change in the policy rules had led to a deterioration of the customers’ saving balances and had increased delayed repayments. Text mining techniques, applied to survey data, pointed towards a lack of trust within the groups, the members of which did not meet frequently outside the CMs, and this was found to be one of the main causes of failure of the pilot experiment. We have concluded that group meetings are an effective tool to stimulate the accumulation of social capital for some categories of clients, and that those MFIs that wish to implement similar interventions should be aware of the drawbacks pertaining to borrowers’ behaviour.
    Keywords: Microfinance, Group lending, Group meetings, Quasi-natural experiment, Repayment delay, Savings
    JEL: G21 O15 L31 I25
    Date: 2017–11–30
  11. By: Shibly Shahrier (Research Institute for Future Design, Kochi University of Technology); Koji Kotani (Research Institute for Future Design, Kochi University of Technology); Makoto Kakinaka (Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation, Hiroshima University)
    Abstract: Past literature examines determinants of charitable activities and shows that prosocial and religious people provide more contribution. However, when an individual faces opportunities of multiple donations, an interplay among them in the context of substitutability or complementarity, along with limited sources extrinsically and intrinsically, can matter on her choice. In this paper, we study this phenomenon for religious and humanitarian donations by analyzing a survey-experiment data from a developing country, Bangladesh. Our result finds that as the degree of religiosity is intensified, people tend to donate more to religious activities at the expense of humanitarian donation. We argue that such different effects of religiosity originate from limited sources for donations and the substitutability between humanitarian and religious donations. The analysis also presents that social value orientation is an important predictor for humanitarian donation, but not for religious donation, such that prosocials donate more for humanitarian activities than the proselfs. Our results conclude that to maintain humanitarian donations, religiosity may not be a panacea but prosociality is rather needed for a society. Given the argument that ongoing modernization makes people become less prosocial and thus might dissatisfy the growing needs of humanitarian activities that require prosocial behaviors, some policy device is necessary to sustain humanitarian donations in developing countries of Asia and Africa since they are becoming modernization in a faster speed.
    Keywords: Religious and humanitarian donations, religiosity, prosociality, substitutability of multiple donations
    Date: 2017–11

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