nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2019‒02‒25
eleven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Does Scientific Progress Affect Culture? A Digital Text Analysis By Michela Giorcelli; Nicola Lacetera; Astrid Marinoni
  2. Bite and Divide: Malaria and Ethnolinguistic Diversity By Cervellati, Matteo; Chiovelli, Giorgio; Esposito, Elena
  3. The Logic of Fear - Populism and Media Coverage of Immigrant Crimes By Couttenier, Mathieu; Hatte, Sophie; Thoenig, Mathias; Vlachos, Stephanos
  4. Trust, Ethnic Diversity, and Personal Contact: A Field Experiment By Henning Finseraas; Torbjørn Hanson; Åshild A. Johnsen; Andreas Kotsadam; Gaute Torsvik
  5. Multigenerational Transmission of Culture By Daniel Spiro
  6. I Care What You Think: Social Image Concerns and the Strategic Revelation of Past Pro-Social Behavior By Ferdinand A. von Siemens
  7. Dimensions of Donation Preferences: The Structure of Peer and Income Effects By Michalis Drouvelis; Benjamin Marx
  8. Born in the Family: Preferences for Boys and the Gender Gap in Math By Dossi, Gaia; Figlio, David; Giuliano, Paola; Sapienza, Paola
  9. Immigration and Preferences for Redistribution in Europe By Alesina, Alberto; Murard, Elie; Rapoport, Hillel
  10. Unethical Behavior and Group Identity in Contests By Benistant, Julien; Villeval, Marie Claire
  11. What drives pricing behavior in Peer-to-Peer markets? Evidence from the carsharing platform blablacar By Mehdi Farajallah; Robert Hammond; Thierry Pénard

  1. By: Michela Giorcelli; Nicola Lacetera; Astrid Marinoni
    Abstract: We study the interplay between scientific progress and culture through text analysis on a corpus of about eight million books, with the use of techniques and algorithms from machine learning. We focus on a specific scientific breakthrough, the theory of evolution through natural selection by Charles Darwin, and examine the diffusion of certain key concepts that characterized this theory in the broader cultural discourse and social imaginary. We find that some concepts in Darwin’s theory, such as Evolution, Survival, Natural Selection and Competition diffused in the cultural discourse immediately after the publication of On the Origins of Species. Other concepts such as Selection and Adaptation were already present in the cultural dialogue. Moreover, we document semantic changes for most of these concepts over time. Our findings thus show a complex relation between two key factors of long-term economic growth – science and culture. Considering the evolution of these two factors jointly can offer new insights to the study of the determinants of economic development, and machine learning is a promising tool to explore these relationships.
    Keywords: science, culture, economic history, text analysis, machine learning
    JEL: C19 C89 N00 O00 O39 Z19
    Date: 2019
  2. By: Cervellati, Matteo; Chiovelli, Giorgio; Esposito, Elena
    Abstract: We investigate the epidemiological origins of ethnic diversity and its persistence. First, we conceptualize the role of malaria for the incentives to voluntary isolation in a Malthusian environment. The theory predicts that interactions in multiple geographically clustered groups with high sexual endogamy allowed limiting disease prevalence and increasing group fitness in pre-modern populations exposed to malaria. Second, using disaggregate level data, we document the hitherto unexplored and robust role of malaria for pre-colonial, historical and contemporaneous ethnic diversity in Africa. Third, falsification tests based on malaria epidemiology and history further allow us to validate the specific predictions of the model. No effect can be detected for other placebo vector-borne diseases. Malaria is a main driver of pre-colonial ethnic diversity in Africa but not in the Americas, where the pathogen was absent before European colonization. Fourth, the effect of ancestral malaria on endogamic cultures is the main predicted channel for the persistence of African ethnicities. Exploiting within village variation across 18 African countries, we find that ancestral malaria, but not malaria today, still affects the differential persistence of ethnicities through its legacy of active endogamic cultures.
    Keywords: African Growth; Cultural and Genetic Selection; Endogamy; Ethnic Groups; Malaria; Malthusian Theory
    JEL: N10 N30 O10 O40 Z10
    Date: 2019–01
  3. By: Couttenier, Mathieu; Hatte, Sophie; Thoenig, Mathias; Vlachos, Stephanos
    Abstract: We study how news coverage of immigrant criminality impacted municipality-level votes in the November 2009 "minaret ban" referendum in Switzerland. The campaign, successfully led by the populist Swiss People's Party, played aggressively on fears of Muslim immigration and linked Islam with terrorism and violence. We combine an exhaustive violent crime detection dataset with detailed information on crime coverage from 12 newspapers. The data allow us to quantify the extent of pre-vote media bias in the coverage of migrant criminality. We then estimate a theory-based voting equation in the cross-section of municipalities. Exploiting random variations in crime occurrences, we find a first-order, positive effect of news coverage on political support for the minaret ban. Counterfactual simulations show that, under a law forbidding newspapers to disclose a perpetrator's nationality, the vote in favor of the ban would have decreased by 5 percentage points (from 57.6% to 52.6%).
    Keywords: Immigration; populism; Violent Crimes; Vote
    JEL: D72 K42 L82 Z12
    Date: 2019–01
  4. By: Henning Finseraas; Torbjørn Hanson; Åshild A. Johnsen; Andreas Kotsadam; Gaute Torsvik
    Abstract: We study how close personal contact with minorities affects in-group and out-group trust in a field experiment in the armed forces. Soldiers are randomly assigned to rooms with or without ethnic minorities. At the end of the recruit period, we measure trust by using a trust game. Results indicate that close personal contact with minorities increases trust towards a generic immigrant. We replicate the result that individuals coming from more ethnically diverse areas trust minorities less, but random assignment to interact with minority soldiers removes this negative correlation. We conclude that social integration involving personal contact can reduce negative effects of ethnic diversity on trust.
    Date: 2019
  5. By: Daniel Spiro
    Abstract: This paper explores intergenerational transmission of culture and the consequences of a plausible assumption: that people care not only for their children’s culture but also for how their grand-children are raised. This departs from the previous literature which, without exception, assumes parents either do not care about, or fail to consider, the effect their actions have on all future generations. The current paper models a sequential game where parents take actions trading off being close to their own preferences and influencing their children, and where parents take into account that the children face a similar trade-off when raising their children. Predictions regarding endogenous extremism, the effect of societal socialization, parents. discounting, social pressure and interaction between groups are derived. In equilibrium, parents behave more extremely than their own preferences and this effect is intensified the more extreme preferences the parent has. There may be perpetual extremizing whereby an arbitrarily long sequence of generations will behave more extremely than the first ancestor’s preferences. Furthermore, interaction of groups implies more extreme initial behavior but also faster integration.
    Keywords: culture, integration, social pressure
    JEL: D90 J15 Z10
    Date: 2019
  6. By: Ferdinand A. von Siemens
    Abstract: This article studies whether people want to control which information on their own past pro-social behavior is revealed to other people. Participants in an experiment are assigned a color which depends on their own past pro-sociality. They can then spend money to increase or decrease the probability with which their color is revealed to another participant. The data show that participants are more likely to reveal colors that have a more favorable informational content. This pattern is not found in a control treatment in which colors are randomly assigned and thus have no informational content. Regression analysis confirms these findings, also when controlling for the initial pro-social decision. These results complement the existing empirical evidence, and suggests that people strategically manipulate the pro-social impression they make on other people, even though a favorable reputation has no immediate material benefits.
    Keywords: social signaling, trust, altruism
    JEL: C90 D01 D80
    Date: 2019
  7. By: Michalis Drouvelis; Benjamin Marx
    Abstract: Charitable donations provide positive externalities and can potentially be increased with an understanding of donor preferences. We obtain a uniquely comprehensive characterization of donation motives using an experiment that varies treatments between and within subject. Donations are increasing in peers’ donations, past subjects’ donations, and bonus income. These findings of peer and income effects do not extend to earned income, anonymous donations, or peers’ donations of bonus income. A model of an uncertain social norm for giving can explain the patterns here and in several strands of past research. Estimation of the model reveals substantial heterogeneity in subjects’ adherence to the norm and perceptions of its form. Correlations between these dimensions of preferences are such that charities with perfect information could increase net revenue using targeted give-aways to certain donors. A simpler fundraising strategy using only the social dimension of donor preferences increases donations by 30 percent.
    Keywords: charitable, donation, altruism, warm glow, social preferences, peer effects, experiment
    JEL: D01 D64 A13
    Date: 2019
  8. By: Dossi, Gaia; Figlio, David; Giuliano, Paola; Sapienza, Paola
    Abstract: We study the correlation between parental gender attitudes and the performance in mathematics of girls using two different approaches and data. First, we identify families with a preference for boys by using fertility stopping rules in a population of households whose children attend public schools in Florida. Girls growing up in a boy-biased family score 3 percentage points lower on math tests when compared to girls raised in other families. Second, we find similar strong effects when we study the correlations between girls' performance in mathematics and maternal gender role attitudes, using evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. We conclude that socialization at home can explain a non-trivial part of the observed gender disparities in mathematics performance and document that maternal gender attitudes correlate with those of their children, supporting the hypothesis that preferences transmitted through the family impact children behavior.
    Keywords: cultural transmission; gender differences; Math Performance
    JEL: A13 I20 J16 Z1
    Date: 2019–02
  9. By: Alesina, Alberto (Harvard University); Murard, Elie (IZA); Rapoport, Hillel (Paris School of Economics)
    Abstract: We examine the relationship between immigration and attitudes toward redistribution using a newly assembled data set of immigrant stocks for 140 regions of 16 Western European countries. Exploiting within-country variations in the share of immigrants at the regional level, we find that native respondents display lower support for redistribution when the share of immigrants in their residence region is higher. This negative association is driven by regions of countries with relatively large Welfare States and by respondents at the center or at the right of the political spectrum. The effects are also stronger when immigrants originate from Middle-Eastern countries, are less skilled than natives, and experience more residential segregation. These results are unlikely to be driven by immigrants' endogenous location choices.
    Keywords: income redistribution, population heterogeneity, welfare systems, immigration
    JEL: D31 D64 I3 Z13
    Date: 2019–02
  10. By: Benistant, Julien (GATE, University of Lyon); Villeval, Marie Claire (CNRS, GATE)
    Abstract: Using a real-effort experiment, we study whether group identity affects unethical behavior in a contest game. We vary whether minimal group identity is induced or not, whether individuals have to report their own outcome or the outcome of their competitor, and whether pairs of competitors share the same group identity or not. We show that individuals misreport in the same proportion and to the same extent by inflating their outcome or by decreasing their opponent's outcome, except when any possible scrutiny by the experimenter is removed. Regardless of the possibility of scrutiny by the experimenter, misreporting is affected neither by the competitor's group identity nor by the individual's beliefs about others' misreporting behavior. This suggests that in competitive settings, unethical behavior is mainly driven by an unconditional desire to win.
    Keywords: lying, sabotage, group identity, contests, experiment
    JEL: C92 M54 D63
    Date: 2019–01
  11. By: Mehdi Farajallah (ESC Rennes School of Business - ESC Rennes School of Business); Robert Hammond (NCSU - North Carolina State University [Raleigh]); Thierry Pénard (CREM - Centre de recherche en économie et management - UNICAEN - Université de Caen Normandie - NU - Normandie Université - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1 - UNIV-RENNES - Université de Rennes - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: We examine how price and demand are determined on peer-to-peer platforms and whether experience and reputation have the same impact as in traditional markets. We use data from the world's leading intercity carsharing platform, BlaBlaCar, which connects drivers with empty seats to riders. We find that pricing decisions evolve as drivers gain experience with the platform. More-experienced drivers set lower prices and, controlling for price, sell more seats. Our interpretation is that more-experienced drivers on BlaBlaCar learn to lower their prices as they gain experience; accordingly, more-experienced drivers earn more revenue per trip. In total, our results suggest that peer-to-peer markets such as BlaBlaCar share some characteristics with other types of peer-to-peer markets such as eBay but remain a unique and rich setting in which there are many new insights to be gained.
    Keywords: blablacar,intercity carsharing platform,peer-to-peer market
    Date: 2019

This nep-soc issue is ©2019 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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