nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2018‒06‒25
twelve papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Social Media, Sentiment and Public Opinions: Evidence from #Brexit and #USElection By Yuriy Gorodnichenko; Tho Pham; Oleksandr Talavera
  2. Leadership and Social Norms: Evidence from the Forty-Eighters in the Civil War By Christian Dippel; Stephan Heblich
  3. Altruism and information By Brañas-Garza, Pablo; Bucheli, Marisa; Espinosa, Maria Paz
  4. Ancestral Characteristics of Modern Populations By Giuliano, Paola; Nunn, Nathan
  5. Tax Evasion on a Social Network By Gamannossi degl’Innocenti, Duccio; Rablen, Matthew D.
  6. The other 1%: Class Leavening, Contamination and Voting for Redistribution By Lars Lefgren; David Sims; Olga Stoddard
  7. The Cultural Divide By Klaus Desmet; Romain Wacziarg
  8. Status maximization as a source of fairness in a networked dictator game By Jan E. Snellman; Gerardo I\~niguez; J\'anos Kert\'esz; R. A. Barrio; Kimmo K. Kaski
  9. Lifting the Curtain: Backstage Cognition, Frontstage Behavior, and the Interpersonal Transmission of Culture By Lu, Richard; Chatman, Jennifer A.; Goldberg, Amir; Srivastava, Sameer B.
  10. The “same bed, different dreams” of Vietnam and China: how (mis)trust could make or break it By Hong Kong Nguyen-To; Quan-Hoang Vuong; Manh Tung Ho; Thu Trang Vuong
  11. Spousal Violence and Social Norms in India's North East By Pal, Sumantra
  12. Trust and Signals in Workplace Organization: Evidence from Job Autonomy Differentials between Immigrant Groups By van Hoorn, Andre

  1. By: Yuriy Gorodnichenko; Tho Pham; Oleksandr Talavera
    Abstract: This paper studies information diffusion in social media and the role of bots in shaping public opinions. Using Twitter data on the 2016 E.U. Referendum (“Brexit”) and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, we find that diffusion of information on Twitter is largely complete within 1-2 hours. Stronger interactions across agents with similar beliefs are consistent with the “echo chambers” view of social media. Bots have a tangible effect on the tweeting activity of humans but the degree of bots’ influence depends on whether bots provide information consistent with humans’ priors. Overall, our results suggest that the aggressive use of Twitter bots, coupled with the fragmentation of social media and the role of sentiment, could contribute to the vote outcomes.
    JEL: D72 D83 D84
    Date: 2018–05
  2. By: Christian Dippel; Stephan Heblich
    Abstract: A growing theoretical literature emphasizes the role that leaders play in shaping beliefs and social norms. We provide empirical evidence for such ‘civic leadership.’ We focus on the Forty-Eighters, a group of political refugees from Germany's failed 1848 revolutions, and their role in the struggle for the abolition of slavery in the United States. Our primary outcome is volunteering for the Union Army. Given the enormously high death toll during the Civil War, this variable provides a powerful measure of social norms against slavery. We show that towns where Forty-Eighters settled in the 1850s increased their Union Army enlistments by eighty percent over the course of the war. Using machine-learning techniques to infer soldiers' ancestry, we find that the Forty-Eighters had the biggest impact on the enlistment of German Americans, a smaller effect on English-speaking men (American and Irish), and yet a smaller effect on Scandinavian and Italian men. Forty-Eighters who fought in the war and were successful at raising a regiment had the biggest effect on enlistment, and Forty-Eighters also had a discernible effect in the field of battle, lowering their fellow soldiers' likelihood of desertion.
    JEL: D72 J61 N41
    Date: 2018–05
  3. By: Brañas-Garza, Pablo; Bucheli, Marisa; Espinosa, Maria Paz
    Abstract: Experimental literature has accumulated evidence on the association of personal characteristics to a higher or lower level of prosocial behavior. There is also evidence that donations are affected by the mere provision of information about the recipients, whatever its nature or content. In this paper, we present a unified experimental framework to analyze the impact of social class, political orientation and gender on the level of giving; our experimental design allows us to reveal the effect of providing information by itself, with respect to the baseline treatment of no information, and separately from the effect of the informational content. These results could be relevant to any design intended to measure the impact on altruism of different manipulations of the Dictator Game.
    Keywords: economic experiments, information, wealth, gender, ideology, inequity aversion, giving.
    JEL: C91 D64 I30
    Date: 2018–05–30
  4. By: Giuliano, Paola (University of California, Los Angeles); Nunn, Nathan (Harvard University)
    Abstract: We construct a database, with global coverage, that provides measures of the cultural and environmental characteristics of the pre-industrial ancestors of the world's current populations. In this paper, we describe the construction of the database, including the underlying data, the procedure to produce the estimates, and the structure of the final data. We then provide illustrations of some of the variation in the data and provide an illustration of how the data can be used.
    Keywords: historical development, persistence, cultural traits, political institutions
    JEL: N00 Z10 Z13
    Date: 2018–05
  5. By: Gamannossi degl’Innocenti, Duccio (University of Exeter); Rablen, Matthew D. (University of Sheffield)
    Abstract: We relate tax evasion behavior to a substantial literature on self and social comparison in judgements. Taxpayers engage in tax evasion as a means to boost their expected consumption relative to others in their "local" social network, and relative to past consumption. The unique Nash equilibrium of the model relates optimal evasion to a (Bonacich) measure of network centrality: more central taxpayers evade more. The indirect revenue effects from auditing are shown to be ordinally equivalent to a related Bonacich centrality. We generate networks corresponding closely to the observed structure of social networks observed empirically. In particular, our networks contain celebrity taxpayers, whose consumption is widely observed, and who are systematically of higher wealth. In this context we show that, if the tax authority can observe the social network, it is able to raise its audit revenue by around six percent.
    Keywords: tax evasion, social networks, network centrality, optimal auditing, social comparison, self comparison, habit, indirect effects, relative consumption
    JEL: H26 D85 K42
    Date: 2018–05
  6. By: Lars Lefgren; David Sims; Olga Stoddard
    Abstract: We perform an experiment to measure how changes in the effort exerted by a small fraction of a low-reward group affect the willingness of the high-reward group to vote for redistributive taxation. We find that a substantial fraction of high reward subjects vote in favor of greater redistribution when a very small fraction of high-effort individuals is added to a pool of otherwise low-effort poor. Contaminating a group of high-effort poor with a small number of low-effort individuals causes the most generous rich subjects to vote for less redistribution. These results suggest that anecdotes about the deservedness of a small group of transfer recipients may be effective in changing support for redistribution. We find large gender differences in the results. Relative to men, women respond three times more strongly to the existence of high-effort individuals among the poor. This behavior may help explain gender differences in support for redistribution more generally.
    JEL: D3 H2
    Date: 2018–05
  7. By: Klaus Desmet; Romain Wacziarg
    Abstract: This paper conducts a systematic quantitative study of cultural convergence and divergence in the United States over time. Using the General Social Survey (1972-2016), we assess whether cultural values have grown more or less heterogeneous, both overall and between groups. Groups are defined according to 11 identity cleavages such as gender, religion, ethnic origin, family income quintiles, geographic region, education levels, etc. We find some evidence of greater overall heterogeneity after 1993 when averaging over all available values, yet on many issues heterogeneity changes little. The level of between-group heterogeneity is extremely small: the United States is very pluralistic in terms of cultural attitudes and values, but this diversity is not primarily the result of cultural divides between groups. On average across cleavages and values, we find evidence of falling between-group heterogeneity from 1972 to the late 1990s, and growing divides thereafter. We interpret these findings in light of a model of cultural change where intergenerational transmission and forces of social influence determine the distribution of cultural traits in society.
    JEL: D70 Z1
    Date: 2018–05
  8. By: Jan E. Snellman; Gerardo I\~niguez; J\'anos Kert\'esz; R. A. Barrio; Kimmo K. Kaski
    Abstract: Human behavioural patterns exhibit selfish or competitive, as well as selfless or altruistic tendencies, both of which have demonstrable effects on human social and economic activity. In behavioural economics, such effects have traditionally been illustrated experimentally via simple games like the dictator and ultimatum games. Experiments with these games suggest that, beyond rational economic thinking, human decision-making processes are influenced by social preferences, such as an inclination to fairness. In this study we suggest that the apparent gap between competitive and altruistic human tendencies can be bridged by assuming that people are primarily maximising their status, i.e., a utility function different from simple profit maximisation. To this end we analyse a simple agent-based model, where individuals play the repeated dictator game in a social network they can modify. As model parameters we consider the living costs and the rate at which agents forget infractions by others. We find that individual strategies used in the game vary greatly, from selfish to selfless, and that both of the above parameters determine when individuals form complex and cohesive social networks.
    Date: 2018–06
  9. By: Lu, Richard (University of California, Berkeley); Chatman, Jennifer A. (University of California, Berkeley); Goldberg, Amir (Stanford University); Srivastava, Sameer B. (University of California, Berkeley)
    Abstract: From the schoolyard to the boardroom, the pressures of cultural assimilation pervade all walks of social life. Yet people vary in the capacity to fit in culturally, and their fit can wax and wane over time. We examine how individual cognition and social influence produce variation and change in cultural fit. We do so by lifting the curtain between the backstage (cognition) and frontstage (behavior) of cultural fit. We theorize that the backstage comprises two analytically distinct dimensions--perceptual accuracy and value congruence--and that the former matters for normative compliance on the frontstage, whereas the latter does not. We further propose that a person's behavior and perceptual accuracy are both influenced by observations of others' behavior, whereas value congruence is less susceptible to peer influence. Drawing on email and survey data from a mid-sized technology firm, we use the tools of computational linguistics and machine learning to develop longitudinal measures of frontstage and backstage cultural fit. We also take advantage of a reorganization that produced quasi-exogenous shifts in employees' peer groups to identify the causal impact of social influence.
    Date: 2017–10
  10. By: Hong Kong Nguyen-To; Quan-Hoang Vuong; Manh Tung Ho; Thu Trang Vuong
    Abstract: The relationship between Vietnam and China could be captured in the Chinese expression of “同床异梦”,which means lying on the same bed but having different dreams. The two countries share certain culturaland political similarities but also diverge vastly in their national interests. This paper adds to the extantliterature on this topic by analyzing the element of trust/mistrust in their interactions in trade-investment,tourism, and defense-security. The analysis shows how the relationship is increasingly interdependent butis equally fragile due to the lack of trust on both sides. The mistrust or even distrust of Chinese subjectsrun deep within the Vietnamese mindset, from the skepticism of Chinese investment, Chinese tourists,discrimination against ethnic Chinese, to the caution against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.The paper forecasts that, despite the deep-seated differences and occasional mistrust, going forward,neither side would risk damaging the status quo even when tensions peak.
    JEL: F50 F52 P21
    Date: 2018–06–04
  11. By: Pal, Sumantra
    Abstract: A body of extant literature suggests that improvements in wellbeing and empowerment of women in the process of development are hindered by traditional social norms, which are often patriarchic. This paper investigates the link between traditional social norms and women’s status, in particular, the women's attitude towards violence and incidence of spousal violence. The study context is the tribes of Meghalaya and neighboring areas, where there is great variation regarding patriarchic versus matriarchic lineage, residence and inheritance customs. For the statistical analysis, we combine information on social norms prevailing among the different tribes from the comprehensive ethnographic atlas People of India with household-level data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS). In addition to individual characteristics, we find the extent to which social norms determine violence against women and under what prevailing norms working women are better-off.
    Keywords: Social Norms,Spousal Violence
    JEL: Z13 B54 J12
    Date: 2018
  12. By: van Hoorn, Andre
    Abstract: Trust involves a willingness to be vulnerable to other agents’ actions as well as an assessment of these agents’ trustworthiness. This paper seeks to unpack the relationship between trust and workplace organization, focusing on signals of (un)trustworthiness guiding employers’ trust decisions. While much research finds that societal trust norms affect workplace organization, particularly the granting of autonomy to employees, the underlying process remains essentially a black box. Integrating extant literatures, I posit that employers use group-level traits to infer (un)trustworthiness and decide on how much job autonomy to grant to specific employees. I test this prediction in a large cross-national sample comprising migrant employees originating from home countries that differ in the degree to which corruption has been institutionalized in society. Confirming my prediction, empirical results reveal a strong negative relationship between homecountry corruption and job autonomy. Results are robust to controlling for a range of potential confounders, including personal income and home-country level of economic development as proxies for unobserved skill differentials. Key contribution of the paper is to reveal important real-world features of trust governing exchange in the context of workplace organization.
    Keywords: Trustworthiness; decentralization; statistical discrimination; signaling theory; economic exchange
    JEL: D29 L29 M50
    Date: 2018

This nep-soc issue is ©2018 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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