nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2018‒12‒17
twelve papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Political Distrust in Europe: the Impact of Immigration and the Global Economic Crisis By Anne Marie Jeannet
  2. Private vs Public incentives: an experiment on motivation crowding and social trust By Simone D'Alessandro; Caterina Giannetti; Pietro Guarnieri
  3. The more educated, the more engaged? An analysis of social capital and education By Gerard Ferrer-Esteban; Mauro Mediavilla
  4. The Causal Effect of Trust By Björn Bartling; Ernst Fehr; David B. Huffman; Nick Netzer
  5. Immigrant Voters, Taxation and the Size of the Welfare State By Arnaud Chevalier; Benjamin Elsner; Andreas Lichter; Nico Pestel
  6. Far above others By Dunia López-Pintado; Miguel A. Meléndez-Jiménez
  7. When a Nudge Backfires. Using Observation with Social and Economic Incentives to Promote Pro-Social Behavior By Gary Bolton; Eugen Dimant; Ulrich Schmidt;
  8. The Role of Institutions and Immigrant Networks in Firms’ Offshoring Decisions By Simone Moriconi; Giovanni Peri; Dario Pozzoli
  9. Leveraging Patients' Social Networks to Overcome Tuberculosis Underdetection: A Field Experiment in India By Jessica Goldberg; Mario Macis; Pradeep Chintagunta
  10. Family Ties and Children Obesity in Italy By Crudu, Federico; Neri, Laura; Tiezzi, Silvia
  11. The Effects of Scarcity on Cheating and In-Group Favoritism By Billur Aksoy; Marco A. Palma
  12. Values, attitudes and economic behavior By Roos, Michael W. M.

  1. By: Anne Marie Jeannet
    Abstract: olitical disaffection has intensified in democratic societies and European countries have witnessed a slow but steady decline of political trust over the past decades. We argue that this is due to, in part, to sustained immigration and was exacerbated by the onset of the global financial crisis. To test this, we employ a multi-level research design using micro attitudinal data from 17 European countries (2002-14). Our findings show a strong connection between immigration to Europe and the growing distrust that European citizens have for their country’s political institutions. This study provides new insight into how trends in immigration and the economic conditions of the last decade have reshaped the relationship between citizens and politics in Europe. Finally, the future implications for sociological theorizing around political trust is discussed.
    Date: 2017–04
  2. By: Simone D'Alessandro; Caterina Giannetti; Pietro Guarnieri
    Abstract: Relying on a threshold public good game, we experimentally investigate the effect of two types of incentives on prosocial behaviours. On the one hand, a private type of incentive targets individuals by reducing their cost of contribution. On the other hand, a public type of incentive targets groups by providing an investment that directly support the achievement of the collective objective (i.e. the threshold in the public good game). Thus, we study how expectations on others determine the impact of incentives on prosocial behaviours and how incentives themselves affect these expectations in turn. We interpret this mutual relation as reflecting an endogenous relation between incentive provision and social trust.
    Keywords: Motivation crowding, Social Norms, Incentives
    JEL: C92 D04
    Date: 2018–11–01
  3. By: Gerard Ferrer-Esteban (Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli); Mauro Mediavilla (Universitat de València & IEB)
    Abstract: Social capital can be understood as network-based civic engagement, based on reciprocity and trust. This sociological approach, however, is faced with problems when assuming network-based social capital as a stock of capital. Any form of capital should have a positive economic payoff, should be measurable, and should define the mechanisms through which social capital can be accumulated and depreciated (Solow, 1995). To meet these criteria, we refer to social capital as “persistent and shared beliefs and values that help a group overcome the free rider problem in the pursuit of socially valuable activities” (Guiso et al., 2010). In this study, we assess the role of education as a potential accumulation mechanism of civic awareness and social trust. We implement a pseudo-panel data approach to identify, specifically in Italy, the effect of education on social capital. The findings show that participation in education is likely to foster higher levels of social capital, understood as a culture-based concept of civic engagement. In Italy, we also observe heterogeneous effects depending on the geographical location along the north-south axis. The Islands and the South, geographical areas in which levels of social capital are typically lower, are the areas where education shows a higher impact on civic awareness and social trust. We discuss and substantiate the results in terms of education policy implications.
    Keywords: Returns to education, civic participation, social capital, dynamic models with repeated cross-sectional data
    JEL: C21 I21 I24 Z13
    Date: 2017
  4. By: Björn Bartling; Ernst Fehr; David B. Huffman; Nick Netzer
    Abstract: Trust affects almost all human relationships – in families, organizations, markets and politics. However, identifying the conditions under which trust, defined as people’s beliefs in the trustworthiness of others, has a causal effect on the efficiency of human interactions has proven to be difficult. We show experimentally and theoretically that trust indeed has a causal effect. The duration of the effect depends, however, on whether initial trust variations are supported by multiple equilibria. We study a repeated principal-agent game with multiple equilibria and document empirically that an efficient equilibrium is selected if principals believe that agents are trustworthy, while players coordinate on an inefficient equilibrium if principals believe that agents are untrustworthy. Yet, if we change the institutional environment such that there is a unique equilibrium, initial variations in trust have short-run effects only. Moreover, if we weaken contract enforcement in the latter environment, exogenous variations in trust do not even have a short-run effect. The institutional environment thus appears to be key for whether trust has causal effects and whether the effects are transient or persistent.
    Keywords: trust, causality, equilibrium selection, belief distortions, incomplete contracts, screening, institutions
    JEL: C91 D02 D91 E02
    Date: 2018
  5. By: Arnaud Chevalier; Benjamin Elsner; Andreas Lichter; Nico Pestel
    Abstract: This paper studies the impact of immigration on public policy setting. As a natural experiment, we exploit the sudden arrival of eight million forced migrants in West Germany after World War II. These migrants were on average poorer than the West German population, but unlike most international migrants they had full voting rights and were eligible for social welfare. Using panel data for West German cities and applying difference-in-differences and an instrumental variables approach, we show that local governments responded to this migration shock with selective and persistent tax raises as well as shifts in spending. In response to the inflow, farm and business owners were taxed more while residential property and wage bill taxes were left unchanged. Moreover, high-inflow cities significantly raised welfare spending while reducing spending on infrastructure and housing. Election data suggest that these policy changes were partly driven by the political influence of the immigrants: in high-inflow regions, the major parties were more likely to nominate immigrants as candidates, and a pro-immigrant party received high vote shares. We further document that this episode of mass immigration had lasting effects on people’s preferences for redistribution. In areas with larger inflows in the 1940s, people have substantially higher demand for redistribution more than 50 years later.
    Keywords: Migration; Taxation; Spending; Welfare state
    JEL: J61 H25
    Date: 2018–08
  6. By: Dunia López-Pintado (Universidad Pablo de Olavide); Miguel A. Meléndez-Jiménez (Universidad de Málaga)
    Abstract: We study the role of competitive behavior in a social network. Agents gain a competitive premium by obtaining a higher outcome than their neighbors (i.e., their reference group). We assume societies in which the level of competition can be strong, mild or weak (i.e., agents compare themselves with the best, the average or the worst outcome in their reference group, respectively). Surprisingly, we find that in a more competitive society less aggregate effort is provided. An increase in the density and homogeneity of the network decreases total effort in the strong-competitive case, whereas the opposite occurs in the weak-competitive setting.
    Keywords: behavioral economics, reference points, social comparisons, competition, social networks.
    JEL: D01 D85 Z13
    Date: 2018–12
  7. By: Gary Bolton; Eugen Dimant (Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania); Ulrich Schmidt;
    Abstract: Both theory and recent empirical evidence on nudging suggests that observability of behavior acts as an instrument for promoting (discouraging) pro-social (anti-social) behavior. Our study questions the universality of these claims. We employ a novel four-party setup to disentangle the roles three observational mechanisms play in mediating behavior. We systematically vary the observability of one’s actions by others as well as the (non-)monetary relationship between observer and observee. Observability involving economic incentives crowds-out anti-social behavior in favor of more pro-social behavior. Surprisingly, social observation without economic incentives fails to achieve any aggregate pro-social effect, and if anything it backfires. Additional experiments confirm that observability without additional monetary incentives can indeed backfire. However, they also show that the effect of observability on pro-social behavior is increased when social norms are made salient.
    Keywords: Anti-Social Behavior, Experiment, Nudge, Pro-Social Behavior, Reputation
    JEL: C91 D64 D9
    Date: 2018–12
  8. By: Simone Moriconi; Giovanni Peri; Dario Pozzoli
    Abstract: The offshoring of production by multinational firms has expanded dramatically in recent decades, increasing these firms’ potential for economic growth and technological transfers across countries. What determines the location of offshore production? How do countries' policies and characteristics affect the firm’s decision about where to offshore? Do firms choose specific countries because of their policies or because they know them better? In this paper, we use a very rich dataset on Danish firms to analyze how decisions to offshore production depend on the institutional characteristics of the country and firm-specific bilateral connections. We find that institutions that enhance investor protection and reduce corruption increase the probability that firms offshore there, while those that increase regulation in the labor market decrease such probability. We also show that a firm’s probability of offshoring increases with the share of its employees who are immigrants from that country of origin.
    Keywords: offshoring, product market, labor regulations, networks, fixed start-up costs
    JEL: F16 J38 J24
    Date: 2018
  9. By: Jessica Goldberg; Mario Macis; Pradeep Chintagunta
    Abstract: Peer referrals are a common strategy for addressing asymmetric information in contexts such as the labor market. They could be especially valuable for increasing testing and treatment of infectious diseases, where peers may have advantages over health workers in both identifying new patients and providing them credible information, but they are rare in that context. In an experiment with 3,182 patients at 128 tuberculosis (TB) treatment centers in India, we find peers are indeed more effective than health workers in bringing in new suspects for testing, and low-cost incentives of about $US 3 per referral considerably increase the probability that current patients make referrals that result in the testing of new symptomatics and the identification of new TB cases. Peer outreach identifies new TB cases at 25%-35% of the cost of outreach by health workers and can be a valuable tool in combating infectious disease.
    JEL: I1 O1
    Date: 2018–11
  10. By: Crudu, Federico; Neri, Laura; Tiezzi, Silvia
    Abstract: This paper examines the impact of overweight family members on weight outcomes of Italian children aged 6 to 14 years. We use an original dataset matching the 2012 cross sections of the Italian Multipurpose Household Survey and the Household Budget Survey. Since identification of peer effects within the family is well known to be a difficult challenge, we implement our analysis on a partially identified model by means of valid inferential procedures recently introduced in the literature and based on standard Bayesian computation methods. We find evidence of a strong, positive effect of both overweight peer children in the family and overweight adults on children weight outcomes. The impact of overweight peer children in the household is larger than the impact of adults.
    Keywords: Children obesity; peer effects within the family; partial identification; confidence sets.
    JEL: C15 C21 C35 I12
    Date: 2018–04–27
  11. By: Billur Aksoy (Texas A&M University, Department of Economics); Marco A. Palma (Texas A&M University, Department of Agricultural Economics)
    Abstract: We study the impact of scarcity on cheating and in-group favoritism using a two-stage lab-in-the-field experiment with low-income coffee farmers in a small, isolated village in Guatemala. During the coffee harvesting months, farmers in this village experience a significant income boost from selling their coffee beans. However, during the non-harvesting months, they experience a substantial decline in income, inducing a pronounced state of scarcity, while other factors remain similar. Using this distinctive variance in income, we first conducted our experiment before the coffee harvest (Scarcity period). We then repeated the experiment-with the same group of subjects-during the harvest season (Abundance period). First, using the Fischbacher and Follmi-Heusi (2013) die-roll paradigm, we find that subjects cheat at high levels in both periods when they are the beneficiaries of the cheating. Scarcity does not impact this cheating behavior. Secondly, using subjects' natural village identity, we find significant in-group favoritism for cheating in the Abundance period, which disappears during the Scarcity period. Finally, using a dictator game, we show that this finding holds when the cost of favoring an in-group member is monetary rather than moral.
    Keywords: dishonesty, lab-in-the-field experiment, pro-social cheating, scarcity, social identity.
    JEL: C93 D63 D64
    Date: 2018–11–11
  12. By: Roos, Michael W. M.
    Abstract: In this paper, I propose a simple model in which behavior is determined by the individual's attitude towards the behavior and the attitude depends on the individual's values. The model is based on the Schwartz theory of human values, which is very prominent in social psychology. Values are desirable, transsituational, abstract goals. In the model, they fix aspiration levels for specific targets that are related to an object. The distance between the properties of an object and the aspiration levels determines the degree of the agent's satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the properties of the object. Attitude is the importance-weighted sum of the degrees of (dis-)satisfaction. The model highlights the importance of systematic and measurable heterogeneity among individuals and shows how values can predict differences in tastes and sensitivity to income and prices. The model also explains when Veblen effects occur.
    Keywords: values,attitudes,heterogeneity,Veblen effect,preferences,multiple attributes
    JEL: D01 D11 D91
    Date: 2018

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