nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2018‒08‒13
fifteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Immigration and Redistribution By Alesina, Alberto F; Miano, Armando; Stantcheva, Stefanie
  2. The Emergence of Weak, Despotic and Inclusive States By Robinson, James A
  3. Narratives, Imperatives, and Moral Reasoning By Roland Bénabou; Armin Falk; Jean Tirole
  4. Tax Morale and the Role of Social Norms and Reciprocity. Evidence from a Randomized Survey Experiment By Philipp Dörrenberg; Andreas Peichl
  5. Sanctioning and Trustworthiness Across Ethnic Groups By Levely, Ian; Bartos, Vojtech
  6. Bring a friend! Privately or Publicly? By Elias Carroni; Paolo Pin; Simone Righi
  7. Somatic Distance, Cultural Affinities, Trust And Trade By Jacques Melitz; Farid Toubal
  8. It's Not A Lie If You Believe It. Lying and Belief Distortion Under Norm-Uncertainty By Cristina Bicchieri; Eugen Dimant; ;
  9. Rhetoric matters: A social norms explanation for the anomaly of framing By Chang, Daphne; Chen, Roy; Krupka, Erin
  10. The Importance of Network Recommendations in the Director Labor Market By Rüdiger Fahlenbrach; Hyemin Kim; Angie Low
  11. Willing to share? Tax compliance and gender in Europe and America By D’Attoma, John; Volintiru, Clara; Steinmo, Sven
  12. Defaults and donations: Evidence from a field experiment By Altmann, Steffen; Falk, Armin; Heidhues, Paul; Jayaraman, Rajshri; Teirlinck, Marrit
  13. Cultural Values, Family Decisions and Gender Segregation in Higher Education: Evidence from 26 OECD Economies By Zuazu Bermejo, Izaskun
  14. Who Voted for Brexit? Individual and Regional Data Combined By Alabrese, Eleonora; Becker, Sascha O.; Fetzer, Thiemo; Novy, Dennis
  15. Testing the universalism of Bourdieu's homology: Structuring patterns of lifestyle across 26 countries By Modesto Gayo; Dominique Joye; Yannick Lemel

  1. By: Alesina, Alberto F; Miano, Armando; Stantcheva, Stefanie
    Abstract: We design and conduct large-scale surveys and experiments in six countries to investigate how natives' perceptions of immigrants influence their preferences for redistribution. We find strikingly large biases in natives' perceptions of the number and characteristics of immigrants: in all countries, respondents greatly overestimate the total number of immigrants, think immigrants are culturally and religiously more distant from them, and are economically weaker -- less educated, more unemployed, poorer, and more reliant on government transfers -- than is the case. While all respondents have misperceptions, those with the largest ones are systematically the right-wing, the non-college educated, and the low-skilled working in immigration-intensive sectors.Support for redistribution is strongly correlated with the perceived composition of immigrants -- their origin and economic contribution -- rather than with the perceived share of immigrants per se. Given the very negative baseline views that respondents have of immigrants, simply making them think about immigration in a randomized manner makes them support less redistribution, including actual donations to charities. We also experimentally show respondents information about the true i) number, ii) origin, and iii) ``hard work'' of immigrants in their country. On its own, information on the ``hard work'' of immigrants generates more support for redistribution. However, if people are also prompted to think in detail about immigrants' characteristics, then none of these favorable information treatments manages to counteract their negative priors that generate lower support for redistribution.
    Keywords: Fairness; Immigration; Online Experiment; Perceptions; race; redistribution; survey; taxation
    JEL: D72 D91 H21 H23 H24 H41
    Date: 2018–07
  2. By: Robinson, James A
    Abstract: Societies under similar geographic and economic conditions and subject to similar external influences nonetheless develop very different types of states. At one extreme are weak states with little capacity and ability to regulate economic or social relations. At the other are despotic states which dominate civil society. Yet there are others which are locked into an ongoing competition with civil society and it is these, not the despotic ones, that develop the greatest capacity. We develop a model of political competition between state (controlled by a ruler or a group of elites) and civil society (representing non-elite citizens), where both players can invest to increase their power. The model leads to different types of steady states depending on initial conditions. One type of steady state, corresponding to a weak state, emerges when civil society is strong relative to the state (e.g., having developed social norms limiting political hierarchy). Another type of steady state, corresponding to a despotic state, originates from initial conditions where the state is powerful and civil society is weak. A third type of steady state, which we refer to as an inclusive state, emerges when state and civil society are more evenly matched. In this last case, each party has greater incentives to invest to keep up with the other, which undergirds the rise of high-capacity states and societies. Our framework highlights that comparative statics with respect to structural factors such as geography, economic conditions or external threats, are conditional - in the sense that depending on initial conditions they can shift a society into or out of the basin of attraction of the inclusive state.
    Date: 2018–07
  3. By: Roland Bénabou; Armin Falk; Jean Tirole
    Abstract: By downplaying externalities, magnifying the cost of moral behavior, or suggesting not being pivotal, exculpatory narratives can allow individuals to maintain a positive image when in fact acting in a morally questionable way. Conversely, responsibilizing narratives can help sustain better social norms. We investigate when narratives emerge from a principal or the actor himself, how they are interpreted and transmitted by others, and when they spread virally. We then turn to how narratives compete with imperatives (general moral rules or precepts) as alternative modes of communication to persuade agents to behave in desirable ways.
    JEL: D62 D64 D78 D83 D91 H41 K42 L14 Z13
    Date: 2018–07
  4. By: Philipp Dörrenberg; Andreas Peichl
    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 social-norm treatment have lower tax morale relative to a control group while participants in a reciprocity treatment have significantly higher tax morale than those in the social-norm group. 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: 2018
  5. By: Levely, Ian (Wageningen University); Bartos, Vojtech (University of Munich)
    Abstract: We show how sanctioning is more effective in increasing cooperation between groups than within groups. We study this using a trust game among ethnically diverse subjects in Afghanistan. In the experiment, we manipulate i) sanctioning and ii) ethnic identity. We find that sanctioning increases trustworthiness in cross-ethnic interactions, but not when applied by a co-ethnic. While we find higher in-group trustworthiness in the absence of sanctioning, the availability and use of the sanction closes this gap. This has important implications for understanding the effect of institutions in developing societies where ethnic identity is salient. Our results suggest that formal institutions for enforcing cooperation are more effective when applied between, rather than within, ethnic groups, due to behavioral differences in how individuals respond to sanctions.
    Keywords: sanctions; cooperation; crowding out; moral incentives; ethnicity; afghanistan;
    JEL: D01 D02 C93 J41
    Date: 2018–07–24
  6. By: Elias Carroni; Paolo Pin; Simone Righi
    Abstract: We study the optimal referral strategy of a seller and its relationship with the type of communication channels among consumers. The seller faces a partially uninformed population of consumers, interconnected through a directed social network. In the network, the seller offers rewards to informed consumers (influencers) conditional on inducing purchases by uninformed consumers (influenced). Rewards are needed to bear a communication cost and to induce word-of-mouth (WOM) either privately (cost-per-contact) or publicly (fixed cost to inform all friends). From the seller's viewpoint, eliciting private WOM is more costly than eliciting public WOM. We investigate (i) the incentives for the seller to move to a denser network, inducing either private or public WOM and (ii) the optimal mix between the two types of communication. A denser network is found to be always better, not only for information diffusion but also for seller's profits, as long as private WOM is concerned. Differently, under public WOM, the seller may prefer an environment with less competition between informed consumers and the presence of highly connected influencers (hubs) is the main driver to make network density beneficial to profits. When the seller is able to discriminate between private and public WOM, the optimal strategy is to cheaply incentivize the more connected people to pass on the information publicly and then offer a high bonus for private WOM.
    Date: 2018–07
  7. By: Jacques Melitz (CREST; ENSAE; CEPII); Farid Toubal (CREST; ENS de Paris-Saclay; CEPII)
    Abstract: Somatic distance, or differences in physical appearance, proves to be extremely important in the gravity model of bilateral trade in conformity with results in other areas of economics and outside of it in the social sciences. This is also true quite independently of survey evidence about bilateral trust. These findings are obtained in a sample of the 15 members of the European Economic Association in 1996. Robustness tests also show that somatic distance has a more reliable influence on bilateral trade than the other cultural variables. The article finally discusses the interpretation and the breadth of application of these results.
    Keywords: Somatic distance, Cultural interactions, Trust, Language, Bilateral Trade
    JEL: F10 F40 Z10
    Date: 2018–04–01
  8. By: Cristina Bicchieri; Eugen Dimant (Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania); ;
    Abstract: We explore the relationship between norm-uncertainty and lying. Lies are ubiquitous, and people often lie for their own benefit or for the benefit of others. Research in environments in which social norms are clearly defined and communicated finds that social norms in fluence personal decisions, even when they are not in our own self-interest. We deviate from this approach and study lying under norm uncertainty with scope for opportunistic interpretation of the norm. We introduce variation along three dimensions: salience of different types of norm-uncertainty (normative/empirical), the beneficiary of the lie (self/other), and ex-ante knowledge about the opportunity to tell a lie in order to tease out potential belief-distortion mechanisms. We also find compelling evidence that individuals engage in self-serving belief distortion to increase lying overall. However, we observe this only when uncertainty about what others do (empirical uncertainty), but not when uncertainty about what others approve of (normative uncertainty) is made salient. We also observe conditional liars, but only when the lie is self-serving rather than to the benefit of a third party. We discuss policy implications to improve the effectiveness of norm-based interventions.
    Keywords: Cheating, Experiment, Lying, Social Norms, Uncertainty
    JEL: C72 C91 D8 D9
    Date: 2018–08
  9. By: Chang, Daphne; Chen, Roy; Krupka, Erin
    Abstract: Ample evidence shows that certain words or ways of phrasing things can cause us to change our preferences. We demonstrate one mechanism for why this happens - "framing" evokes norms which then influence choice. We use a laboratory study to test the impact of describing a series of dictator games with either politically charged tax- or neutrallyframed language. Subjects' political identities interact with these frames, causing changes in both norms and choices. Framing makes Democrats prefer equalized outcomes, and Republicans reluctant to redistribute payments even when it leaves them disadvantaged.
    Keywords: framing,norms,social identity,altruism
    JEL: C93 D83
    Date: 2018
  10. By: Rüdiger Fahlenbrach (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne); Hyemin Kim (Nanyang Technological University); Angie Low (Nanyang Technological University)
    Abstract: Directors are more likely to obtain additional directorships or be promoted if the CEO and peer directors of their current board are well-connected. The impact of CEO and peer director connections is stronger for additional appointments and promotions at firms in the CEO’s and peer directors’ networks. CEO connections are particularly important for directors with a weaker labor market. There is no evidence that the appointments of referred directors are less well-received by the market than other appointments. Overall, connections are important in the director labor market. Access to additional networks provides strong incentives for directors to join corporate boards.
    Keywords: board of directors, social connections, director labor market
    JEL: G30 G34
    Date: 2018–03
  11. By: D’Attoma, John; Volintiru, Clara; Steinmo, Sven
    Abstract: Studies examining the effects of gender on honesty, deceptive behavior, pro-sociality, and risk aversion, often find significant differences between men and women. The present study contributes to the debate by exploiting one of the largest tax compliance experiments to date in a highly controlled environment conducted in the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Italy. Our expectation was that the differences between men’s and women’s behavior would correlate broadly with the degree of gender equality in each country. Where social, political and cultural gender equality is greater we expected behavioral differences between men and women to be smaller. In contrast, our evidence reveals that women are significantly more compliant than men in all countries. Furthermore, these patterns are quite consistent across countries in our study. In other words, the difference between men’s and women’s behavior is not significantly different in more gender neutral countries than in more traditional societies.
    Keywords: Tax compliance; gender; comparative political economy; institutions
    JEL: J1
    Date: 2017–04–01
  12. By: Altmann, Steffen; Falk, Armin; Heidhues, Paul; Jayaraman, Rajshri; Teirlinck, Marrit
    Abstract: We study how defaults affect charitable donations. In a field experiment that was conducted on a large online platform for charitable giving, we exogenously vary the default options in the donation form in two distinct choice dimensions. The first pertains to the primary donation decision, namely, how much to contribute to the charitable cause. The second relates to a "codonation" decision of how much to contribute to supporting the online platform itself. We find a strong impact of defaults on individual behavior: in each of our treatments, the modal positive contributions in both choice dimensions invariably correspond to the specified default amounts. Defaults, nevertheless, have no significant effects on average donation levels. This is because defaults in the donation domain induce some people to donate more and others to donate less. In contrast, higher defaults in the secondary choice dimension unambiguously induce higher average contributions to the online platform. We complement our experimental results by setting up and estimating a structural model that explores whether personalizing defaults based on individuals' donation histories can help the online platform to increase donation revenues.
    Keywords: Default Options,Online Platforms,Charitable Giving,Field Experiment
    JEL: D03 D01 D64 C93
    Date: 2018
  13. By: Zuazu Bermejo, Izaskun
    Abstract: This paper examines the role of cultural values and family decision-making in the gender distribution of higher education on a panel database of 9 elds of study in 26 OECD countries over 1998-2012. The paper surmises an interplay between family-friendly policies and cultural values that might be associated with gender segregation. Using survey data from the World Value Survey, the results suggest that gender-egalitarian attitudes of females are negatively associated with gender segregation. However, attitudes of males are not associated with signi cant coe cients. Marriage market indicators, such as the age at rst marriage, are positively associated with gender segregation. Finally, family-friendly policies are found to display a positive association with segregation in societies that are attached to traditional gender roles in the labor market. To the contrary, the same policies are negatively associated with segregation in gender-egalitarian societies. These ndings are robust to country and eld-speci c levels of segregation, and remain using alternative speci cations and estimation techniques.
    Keywords: gender, segregation, higher, education, cultural, values, marriage, market, family, policies
    JEL: A13 I24 J16
    Date: 2018–06–11
  14. By: Alabrese, Eleonora (Department of Economics, University of Warwick); Becker, Sascha O. (Department of Economics,and CAGE (Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy), University of Warwick, CEPR,CESifo, ifo,IZA and ROA); Fetzer, Thiemo (Department of Economics, University of Warwick & SERC); Novy, Dennis (Department of Economics, University of Warwick, CEPR, CESifo and CEP/LSE)
    Abstract: Previous analyses of the 2016 Brexit referendum used region-level data or small samples based on polling data.The former might be subject to ecological fallacy and the latter might suffer from small-sample bias. We use individual-level data on thousands of respondents in Understanding Society, the UK’s largest household survey, which includes the EU referendum question. We find that voting Leave is associated with older age, white ethnicity,low educational attainment, infrequent use of smart phones and the internet,receiving benefits, adverse health and low lifesatisfaction. These results coincide with corresponding patterns at the aggregate level of voting areas.We therefore do not find evidence of ecological fallacy. In addition, we show that prediction accuracy is geographically heterogeneous across UK regions,with strongly pro-Leave and strongly pro-Remain areas easier to predict. We also show that among individuals with similar socioeconomic characteristics, Labour supporters are more likely to support remain while Conservative supporters are more likely to support Leave
    Keywords: Aggregation ; Ecological Fallacy ; European Union ; Populism ; Referendum ; UK JEL Classification: D72 ;I10 ;N44 ;R20 ;Z13
    Date: 2018
  15. By: Modesto Gayo (Instituto de Investigación en Ciencias Sociales (ICSO); Facultad de Ciencias Sociales e Historia; Universidad Diego Portales (UDP)); Dominique Joye (Institut des sciences sociales; Faculté des sciences sociales et politiques; Université de Lausanne); Yannick Lemel (CREST; GEMASS, Université Paris IV-Sorbonne)
    Abstract: The homology idea contends that a very close relationship takes place between social positions (economic and cultural capital) and cultural practices. This idea is at the center of Pierre Bourdieu’s work La Distinction (1984[1979]) and the subsequent studies in the sociology of culture that considered this book a necessary landmark. In this paper, we use data from the International Social Survey Programme for comparing 26 countries from different geographical and cultural areas, in order to assess the homology thesis’ applicability with a large set of very different countries. Using canonical correlation analysis, our results underline how structurally similar are the wide set of countries analysed. On the one hand, we found an analogous hierarchy of activities and social positions or capitals. On the other hand, the level of association between the factorial axis defined on cultural activities and those axis calculated using capitals are also very similar.
    Date: 2018–04–03

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