nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2018‒08‒20
fifteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Media and Political Participation in North Africa By Mathilde Maurel; Charlemagne Nikiema
  2. Narratives, Imperatives, and Moral Reasoning By Bénabou, Roland; Falk, Armin; Tirole, Jean
  3. Trust, Fairness and Acceptance of Food Technologies By Goddard, Ellen; Muringai, Violet
  4. Interventions when Social Norms are Endogenous: A Critique By Rohan Dutta; David K Levine; Salvatore Modica
  5. The Value of Political Connections in the Post-Transition Period: Evidence from the Czech Republic By Miroslav Palansky
  6. The emergence of inequality in social groups: network structure and institutions affect the distribution of earnings in cooperation games By Tsvetkova, Milena; Wagner, Claudia; Mao, Andrew
  7. When social norms and self-image conflict: A public good experiment with social comparison feedback By Serhiy Kandul; Bruno Lanz
  8. Cognitive Ability and In-group Bias: An Experimental Study By Paetzel, Fabian; Sausgruber, Rupert
  9. Misperceived Social Norms: Female Labor Force Participation in Saudi Arabia By Leonardo Bursztyn; Alessandra L. González; David Yanagizawa-Drott
  10. Actions and the self: I give, therefore I am? By Tobias Regner; Astrid Matthey
  11. Family Income and the Intergenerational Transmission of Voting Behavior: Evidence from an Income Intervention By Randall Akee; William Copeland; E. Jane Costello; John B. Holbein; Emilia Simeonova
  12. The effects of official and unofficial information on tax compliance By Filomena Garcia; Andrea Vezzulli; Rafael Marques; Luca David Opromolla
  13. Trust in Lending By Richard T. Thakor; Robert C. Merton
  14. Explaining Parochialism: A Causal Account for Political Polarization in Changing Economic Environments By Alexander J. Stewart; Nolan McCarty; Joanna J. Bryson
  15. A Model of Addiction and Social Interactions By Julian Reif

  1. By: Mathilde Maurel (FERDI - Fondation pour les Etudes et Recherches sur le Développement International, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Charlemagne Nikiema (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: We examine the role of new decentralized media (the internet) vs old media (television) on individuals' political engagement in North Africa. Drawing our data from the Afrobarometer round 5 survey, we tackle issues of endogeneity by resorting first to a propensity score matching method to identify the effect of media on political participation. We then address endogeneity by relying to a bivariate probit model while using lightening activity as an instrument for media. The analysis evidences the political power of the internet and TV. Getting news from internet reduces voting but increases protests, while TV watching induces more vote and less protest. This effect is channeled through the impact of media on the perception about political institutions, which differs across the different media.
    Keywords: Media, Political Participation, North Africa
    Date: 2016–11–13
  2. By: Bénabou, Roland; Falk, Armin; Tirole, Jean
    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.
    Keywords: consequentialism; deontology; imperatives; moral behavior; narratives; norms; organizations; prosocial behavior; rules
    JEL: D62 D64 D78 D83 D85 D9 H4 K42 L14 Z13
    Date: 2018–07
  3. By: Goddard, Ellen; Muringai, Violet
    Abstract: Trust and perceptions of fairness in markets have been shown to be important in consumer behavior in different contexts. However, there have not been many studies relating the concept of fairness is supply chains to food purchasing behavior. In this study, we explore the relationships between trust, fairness and perception of quality of food produced from three food technologies. The technologies are as follows: (i) bread fortified with omega-3 fatty acids using nanotechnology (ii) pork chops from pigs selectively bred for disease resistance using genomic selection (iii) baby spinach treated with essential oils to reduce concentrations of E. coli O157:H7. Data are from a small exploratory project conducted in 2015 at the University of Alberta, Canada, where 31 non-academic staff participated in stated preference experiments and completed a survey questionnaire. Stated preference data are analysed using conditional logit regressions. Different potential explanatory fairness variables are created using questions from previous studies. From the results, both the constructs associated with trust and with fairness in supply chains have explanatory power. Although there are some variations in results (depending on the type of questions used to measure fairness), fairness positively influences trust in the food supply chain. Future studies might need to consider including perceptions of fairness in supply chains in the analysis of consumer acceptance of novel technologies.
    Keywords: Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety
    Date: 2017–09–29
  4. By: Rohan Dutta; David K Levine; Salvatore Modica
    Date: 2018–08–13
  5. By: Miroslav Palansky (Institute of Economic Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague, Smetanovo nabrezi 6, 111 01 Prague 1, Czech Republic)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes a novel data set on all corporate political donations made in a post-transition country, the Czech Republic, between 1995 and 2014. Using these donations as a proxy for political connections, I assess the relationship between being connected to a political party and the financial performance of the connected firms. In line with the theoretical predictions, I find that firms successfully use political connections to gain advantage over their non-connected peers. The results show that connected firms perform significantly better in the years around the establishment of a connection, and that the effect is stronger for firms that work closely with the public sector. Furthermore, I present evidence that firms that donations seem to represent actual measures of the level of connectedness, and firms that have contributed more outperform other connected firms. I then develop a dynamic approach to match connected firms with their non-connected but otherwise similar peers and conservatively estimate that being politically connected is associated with 20 to 30 % higher profitability than that of non-connected firms. I also find that non-connected firms that receive public money perform similarly to connected firms, suggesting that other sources of connections, such as personal ties, have played a significant role during the post-transition period in the Czech Republic.
    Keywords: political connections, political donations, firm performance, rent-seeking
    JEL: D72 H7 D22
    Date: 2018–08
  6. By: Tsvetkova, Milena; Wagner, Claudia; Mao, Andrew
    Abstract: From small communities to entire nations and society at large, inequality in wealth, social status, and power is one of the most pervasive and tenacious features of the social world. What causes inequality to emerge and persist? In this study, we investigate how the structure and rules of our interactions can increase inequality in social groups. Specifically, we look into the effects of four structural conditions—network structure, network fluidity, reputation tracking, and punishment institutions—on the distribution of earnings in network cooperation games. We analyze 33 experiments comprising 96 experimental conditions altogether. We find that there is more inequality in clustered networks compared to random networks, in fixed networks compared to randomly rewired and strategically updated networks, and in groups with punishment institutions compared to groups without. Secondary analyses suggest that the reasons inequality emerges under these conditions may have to do with the fact that fixed networks allow exploitation of the poor by the wealthy and clustered networks foster segregation between the poor and the wealthy, while the burden of costly punishment falls onto the poor, leaving them poorer. Surprisingly, we do not find evidence that inequality is affected by reputation in a systematic way but this could be because reputation needs to play out in a particular network environment in order to have an effect. Overall, our findings suggest possible strategies and interventions to decrease inequality and mitigate its negative impact, particularly in the context of mid- and large-sized organizations and online communities.
    JEL: J1
    Date: 2018–07–20
  7. By: Serhiy Kandul; Bruno Lanz
    Abstract: Social comparison feedback, i.e. informing people about the behavior of others, has been shown to influence prosocial behavior in many domains, including tax compliance and energy conservation. We argue that heterogeneity in consumers' (un)willingness to consult the corresponding information mitigates the effect of these interventions, and hypothesize that self-image concerns can induce people to deliberately ignore feedback about own behavior. We substantiate this idea by introducing social comparison feedback in a standard public good game, and study conditions in which subjects can elect to consult or deliberately avoid feedback information. Our results show that information avoidance is three times higher for feedback on own contributions as compared to feedback on group-level contributions. Our overall findings suggest that the effectiveness of informational intervention leveraging preferences for conformism with social norms could be enhanced by mitigating self-image costs associated with individual feedback interventions.
    Keywords: Social norms; Social comparison feedback; Deliberate ignorance; Public good game; Self-image concerns; Prosocial behavior; Externalities; Energy use
    JEL: C91 D12 D62 D91 H41 Q41
    Date: 2018–08
  8. By: Paetzel, Fabian; Sausgruber, Rupert
    Abstract: We study the role of performance differences in a task requiring cognitive effort on in-group bias. We show that the in-group bias is strong in groups consisting of high-performing members, and it is weak in low-performing groups. This holds although high-performing subjects exhibit no in-group bias as members of minimal groups, whereas low-performing subjects strongly do. We also observe instances of low-performing subjects punishing the in-group favoritism of low-performing peers. The same does not occur in high-performing or minimal groups where subjects generally accept that decisions are in-group biased.
    Keywords: cognitive ability, group identity, entitlements, social preferences, minimal groups, punishment, social norms, social status
    Date: 2018–08
  9. By: Leonardo Bursztyn; Alessandra L. González; David Yanagizawa-Drott
    Abstract: Through the custom of guardianship, husbands typically have the final word on their wives’ labor supply decisions in Saudi Arabia, a country with very low female labor force participation (FLFP). We provide incentivized evidence (both from an experimental sample in Riyadh and from a national sample) that the vast majority of young married men in Saudi Arabia privately support FLFP outside of home from a normative perspective, while they substantially underestimate the level of support for FLFP by other similar men – even men from their same social setting, such as their neighbors. We then show that randomly correcting these beliefs about others increases married men’s willingness to let their wives join the labor force (as measured by their costly sign-up for a job-matching service for their wives). Finally, we find that this decision maps onto real outcomes: four months after the main intervention, the wives of men in our original sample whose beliefs about acceptability of FLFP were corrected are more likely to have applied and interviewed for a job outside of home. Together, our evidence indicates a potentially important source of labor market frictions, where job search is underprovided due to misperceived social norms.
    JEL: C90 D83 D91 J22 Z10
    Date: 2018–06
  10. By: Tobias Regner (FSU Jena); Astrid Matthey (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena)
    Abstract: Self-signaling models predict less selfish behavior in a probabilistic giving setting as individuals are expected to invest in a pro-social identity. However, there is also substantial evidence that people tend to exploit situational excuses for selfish choices (for instance, uncertainty) and behave more selfishly. We contrast these two motivations experimentally in order to test which one is more prevalent in a reciprocal giving setting. Trustees' back transfer choices are elicited for five different transfer levels of the trustor. Moreover, we ask trustees to provide their back transfer schedule for different scenarios that vary the implementation probability of the back transfer. This design allows us to identify subjects who reciprocate and analyze how these reciprocators respond when self-image relevant factors are varied. Our results indicate that self-deception is prevalent when subjects make the back transfer choice. Twice as many subjects seem to exploit situational excuses than subjects who appear to invest in a pro-social identity.
    Keywords: social preferences, pro-social behavior, experiments, reciprocity, moral wiggle room, self-image concerns, self-signaling
    JEL: C72 C91 D80 D91
    Date: 2017–12–31
  11. By: Randall Akee; William Copeland; E. Jane Costello; John B. Holbein; Emilia Simeonova
    Abstract: Despite clear evidence of an income gradient in political participation, research has not been able to isolate the effects of income on voting from other household characteristics. We investigate how exogenous unconditional cash transfers affected voting in US elections across two generations from the same household. The results confirm that there is strong inter-generational correlation in voting across parents and their children. We also show—consistent with theory—that household receipt of unconditional cash transfers has heterogeneous effects on the civic participation of children coming from different socio-economic backgrounds. It increases children’s voting propensity in adulthood among those raised in initially poorer families. However, income transfers have no effect on parents, regardless of initial income levels. These results suggest that family circumstance during childhood—income in particular—plays a role in influencing levels of political participation in the United States. Further, in the absence of outside shocks, income differences are transmitted across generations and likely contribute to the intergenerational transmission of social and political inequality.
    JEL: D31 D72 H53 H75 I38 J15
    Date: 2018–06
  12. By: Filomena Garcia; Andrea Vezzulli; Rafael Marques; Luca David Opromolla
    Abstract: The administration of tax policy has shifted its focus from enforcement to complementary instruments aimed at creating a social norm of tax compliance. In this paper we provide an analysis of the effects of the dissemination of information regarding the past degree of tax evasion at the social level on the current individual tax compliance behavior. We build an experiment where, for given levels of audit probabilities, fines and tax rates, subjects have to declare their income after receiving either a communication of the official average tax evasion rate or a private message from a group of randomly matched peers about their tax behavior. We use the experimental data to estimate a dynamic econometric model of tax evasion. The econometric model extends the Allingham–Sandmo–Yitzhaki tax evasion model to include self-consistency and endogenous social interactions among taxpayers. We find four main results. First, tax compliance is very persistent. Second, the higher the official past tax evasion rate the higher the degree of persistence: evaders are more likely to evade again, and compliant individuals are more likely to comply again. Third, when all peers communicate to have evaded (complied) in the past, both evaders and compliant individuals are more likely to evade (comply). Fourth, while both treatments, and especially the unofficial information treatment, are associated, in the context of our experiment, with a significantly larger growth in evasion intensity, the aggregate effect depends on the characteristics of the population. In countries with inherently low levels of tax evasion, official information can have beneficial effects by consolidating the behavior of compliant individuals. However, in countries with inherently high levels of tax evasion, official information can have detrimental effects by intensifying the behavior of evaders. In both cases, the impact of official information is magnified in the presence of strong peer effects.
    JEL: C24 C92 D63 H26 Z13
    Date: 2018
  13. By: Richard T. Thakor; Robert C. Merton
    Abstract: We develop a theory of trust in lending, distinguishing between trust and reputation, and use it to analyze the competitive interactions between banks and non-bank lenders (fintech firms). Trust enables lenders to have assured access to financing, whereas a loss of investor trust makes this access conditional on market conditions and lender reputation. Banks endogenously have stronger incentives to maintain trust. When borrower defaults erode trust in lenders, banks are able to survive the erosion of trust when fintech lenders do not. Trust is also asymmetric in nature—it is more difficult to gain it than to lose it.
    JEL: E44 E51 E52 G21 G23 G28 H12 H81
    Date: 2018–06
  14. By: Alexander J. Stewart; Nolan McCarty; Joanna J. Bryson
    Abstract: Political and social polarization are a significant cause of conflict and poor governance in many societies, thus understanding their causes is of considerable importance. Here we demonstrate that shifts in socialization strategy similar to political polarization and/or identity politics could be a constructive response to periods of apparent economic decline. We start from the observation that economies, like ecologies are seldom at equilibrium. Rather, they often suffer both negative and positive shocks. We show that even where in an expanding economy, interacting with diverse out-groups can afford benefits through innovation and exploration, if that economy contracts, a strategy of seeking homogeneous groups can be important to maintaining individual solvency. This is true even where the expected value of out group interaction exceeds that of in group interactions. Our account unifies what were previously seen as conflicting explanations: identity threat versus economic anxiety. Our model indicates that in periods of extreme deprivation, cooperation with diversity again becomes the best (in fact, only viable) strategy. However, our model also shows that while polarization may increase gradually in response to shifts in the economy, gradual decrease of polarization may not be an available strategy; thus returning to previous levels of cooperation may require structural change.
    Date: 2018–07
  15. By: Julian Reif
    Abstract: Many consumer behaviors are both addictive and social. Understanding how these two phenomena interact informs basic models of human behavior, and matters for policymakers when the behavior is regulated. I develop a new model of demand that incorporates both addiction and social interactions and show that, under certain conditions, social interactions reinforce the effects of addiction. I also show how the dynamics introduced by addiction can solve the pernicious problem of identifying the causal effects of social interactions. I then use the model to illustrate a new and important identification problem for studies of social interactions: existing estimates cannot be used to draw welfare conclusions or even to deduce whether social interactions increase aggregate demand. Finally, I develop a method that allows researchers to distinguish between two common forms of social interactions and draw welfare conclusions.
    JEL: D11 D12 H0
    Date: 2018–07

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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