nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2019‒03‒11
five papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Revealing Stereotypes: Evidence from Immigrants in Schools By Alesina, Alberto F; Carlana, Michela; La Ferrara, Eliana; Pinotti, Paolo
  2. Decency By Ellingsen, Tore; Mohlin, Erik
  3. Cohesive Institutions and Political Violence By Thiemo Fetzer; Stephan Kyburz
  4. Digital Communication and Swift Trust By Zakaria Babutsidze; Nobuyuki Hanaki; Adam Zylbersztejn
  5. Working Paper 313 - Altruism, Insurance, and Costly Solidarity Commitments By Vesall Nourani; Christopher Barrett; Eleonora Patacchini; Thomas Walker

  1. By: Alesina, Alberto F; Carlana, Michela; La Ferrara, Eliana; Pinotti, Paolo
    Abstract: If individuals become aware of their stereotypes, do they change their behavior? We study this question in the context of teachers' bias in grading immigrants and native children in middle schools. Teachers give lower grades to immigrant students compared to natives who have the same performance on standardized, blindly-graded tests. We then relate differences in grading to teachers' stereotypes, elicited through an Implicit Association Test (IAT). We find that math teachers with stronger stereotypes give lower grades to immigrants compared to natives with the same performance. Literature teachers do not differentially grade immigrants based on their own stereotypes. Finally, we share teachers' own IAT score with them, randomizing the timing of disclosure around the date on which they assign term grades. All teachers informed of their stereotypes before term grading increase grades assigned to immigrants. Revealing stereotypes may be a powerful intervention to decrease discrimination, but it may also induce a reaction from individuals who were not acting in a biased way.
    Keywords: bias in grading; IAT; immigrants; implicit stereotypes; teachers
    JEL: I24 J15
    Date: 2019–02
  2. By: Ellingsen, Tore (Stockholm School of Economics); Mohlin, Erik (Department of Economics, Lund University)
    Abstract: We develop a formal theory of decency. Shared values and understandings give rise to social norms. Norms may mandate collectively optimal behavior, but they need not do so. Furthermore, behavior can be affected by social values even if it stops short of norm compliance. Seeking stronger predictions, we propose a structural model of social values; society endorses efficiency and equality, but condemns ill-gotten gains. The model implies that decent people will tend to avoid situations that encourage prosocial behavior. It also rationalizes the existence of willful ignorance, intention-based negative reciprocity, and betrayal aversion
    Keywords: Culture; Norms; Situations; Social Context; Social Preferences
    JEL: D91 Z13
    Date: 2019–02–21
  3. By: Thiemo Fetzer (University of Warwick,; Pearson Institute at the University of Chicago; CEPR); Stephan Kyburz (Center for Global Development)
    Abstract: Can institutionalized transfers of resource rents be a source of civil conflict? Are cohesive institutions better at managing conflicts over distribution? We exploit exogenous variation in revenue disbursements to local governments and use new data on local democratic institutions in Nigeria to answer these questions. There is a strong link between rents and conflict far away from the location of the resource. Conflict over distribution is highly organized, involving political militias, and concentrated in the extent to which local governments are non-cohesive. Democratically elected local governments significantly weaken the causal link between rents and political violence. Elections produce more cohesive institutions, and vastly limit the extent to which distributional conflict between groups breaks out following shocks to the rents. Throughout, we confirm these findings using individual level survey data.
    Keywords: conflict, ethnicity, natural resources, political economy, commodity prices
    JEL: Q33 O13 N52 R11 L71
    Date: 2019–02–07
  4. By: Zakaria Babutsidze (SKEMA Business School, Université Côte d’Azur (GREDEG) and OFCE, Sciences Po Paris); Nobuyuki Hanaki (Université Côte d’Azur, CNRS, GREDEG); Adam Zylbersztejn (Univ Lyon, Université Lyon 2, GATE UMR 5824, F-69130 Ecully, France)
    Abstract: We experimentally study the effect of the mode of digital communication on the emergence of swift trust in a principal-agent relationship. We consider three modes of communication: plain text, audio, and video. Communication is pre-play, one-way, and unrestricted, but its content is homogenized across treatments. Overall, both audio and video messages have a positive (and similar) effect on trust compared to plain text; however, the magnitude of these effects depends on the content of agent’s message (promise to act trustworthily vs. no such promise). In all conditions, we observe a positive effect of the agent’s promise on the principal’s trust. We also find that providing visual cues about the sender promotes trust and helps overcome gender favoritism in females.
    Keywords: Digital communication, Trust, Hidden action, Principal-agent relationship, Promise
    JEL: C72 D83
    Date: 2019
  5. By: Vesall Nourani (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); Christopher Barrett; Eleonora Patacchini (Cornell University); Thomas Walker (World Bank)
    Abstract: We model limited commitment informal insurance networks among individuals whose impurely altruistic marginal gains to giving to others diminish with the number of transfers one makes, giving is costly, and stochastic income has both publicly observable and unobservable components. Contrary to the canonical informal insurance model, in which bigger networks and observable income are preferable, our model predicts that unobservable income shocks may facilitate altruistic giving that better targets the least well of individuals within one's network and that too large a network can overwhelm even an altruistic agent, inducing her to cease giving. We test the empirical salience of the model using a unique data set from southern Ghana. We analyze transfer flows among households by coupling observations of gift-giving networks with experimental cash windfall gains - randomized between private and publicly observable payouts - repeated every other month for a year. The empirical evidence supports the model predictions. The magnitude and progressive targeting of transfers precipitated by private income gains underscores the importance of altruistic, and not just insurance, motives underpinning interhousehold transfers. Keywords: Informal insurance, networks, limited commitment, altruism, Ghana JEL classification: D140 O120 O170
    Date: 2019–02–22

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