nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2019‒07‒15
seven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Individual vs. Social Motives in Identity Choice: Theory and Evidence from China By Ruixue Jia; Torsten Persson
  2. Friendship Networks and Political Opinions: A Natural Experiment among Future French Politicians By Algan, Yann; Dalvit, Nicolò; Do, Quoc-Anh; Le Chapelain, Alexis; Zenou, Yves
  3. Your vote is (no) secret! How low voter density harms voter anonymity and biases elections in Italy By Mauro Caselli; Paolo Falco
  4. Business Culture: The Role of Personal and Impersonal Business Relationships on Market Efficiency By Munoz-Herrera, Manuel; Reuben, Ernesto
  5. Calling from the outside: The role of networks in residential mobility By Konstantin Büchel, Maximilian v. Ehrlich, Diego Puga, Elisabet Viladecans-Marsal
  6. Collective Actions: a Network Approach By Tiziano Distefano; Pietro Guarnieri
  7. Identify and understand pay-it-forward reciprocity using millions of online red packets By Yuan Yuan; Tracy Liu; Chenhao Tan; Qian Chen; Alex Pentland; Jie Tang

  1. By: Ruixue Jia; Torsten Persson
    Abstract: The same government policy that incentivizes individuals to make a certain choice can have different effects across groups due to the existence of social norms. In this paper, we study how Chinese ethnic policies that give material benefits to minorities affect ethnicity choices for children in ethnically mixed marriages. We document that, on average, such policies increase the propensity of choosing minority status for the children. Meanwhile, responses to the same policies differ widely across localities, suggesting that social norms may be important. We formalize the ethnic identity choice in a simple framework, which highlights the interaction of material benefits stemming from the ethnic policies, identity costs associated with breaking the norms of following the father's ethnicity, and social reputations altering the importance of identity costs. This framework predicts that ethnic policies should increase the propensity of breaking the norm (i.e., following the mother's ethnicity) in localities where more families follow the norm. We find support for this prediction in microdata from multiple census waves, and show that a number of alternative explanations can be ruled out. More broadly, our study serves as evidence about the interplay of individual and social motivates in shaping policy consequences, as well as evidence on the determinants of identity choice.
    JEL: D01 D02 H1 J1 J13
    Date: 2019–06
  2. By: Algan, Yann (Sciences Po and CEPR); Dalvit, Nicolò (Sciences Po); Do, Quoc-Anh (Sciences Po and CEPR); Le Chapelain, Alexis (Department of Economics); Zenou, Yves (Monach University)
    Abstract: We study how friendship shapes students' political opinions in a natural experiment. We use the indicator whether two students were exogenously assigned to a short-term \integration group", unrelated to scholar activities and dissolved before the school year, as instrumental variable for their friendship, to estimate the effect of friendship on pairwise political opinion outcomes in dyadic regressions. After six months, friendship causes a reduction of differences in opinions by one quarter of the mean difference. It likely works through a homophily-enforced mechanism, by which friendship causes politically-similar students to join political associations together, which reinforces their political similarity. The effect is strong among initially similar pairs, but absent in dissimilar pairs. Friendship affects opinion gaps by reducing divergence, therefore polarization and extremism, without forcing individuals' views to converge. Network characteristics also matter to the friendship effect.
    Keywords: Political opinion; Polarization; Friendship effect; Social networks; Homophily; Extremism; Learning; Natural experiment
    JEL: C93 D72 Z13
    Date: 2019–07–04
  3. By: Mauro Caselli; Paolo Falco
    Abstract: Italian voters are assigned to a specific polling station according to their address. After an election, candidates know how many votes they received in each polling station. When the number of voters per polling stations is low and candidates are many, this jeopardises the secrecy of voting and candi- dates can more easily detect deviations from pre-electoral pledges. Exploit- ing variation in the number of voters per polling station across cities and over time, combined with rich data on politicians in office in all Italian mu- nicipalities between 1989 and 2015, we estimate the effect of voter density on the probability of re-election for local politicians. We find that when the number of voters per polling station is lower (and secrecy is at greater risk), incumbents have a higher probability of re-election. The analysis addresses the potential endogeneity of voter density. The results are stronger in regions with lower social capital and worse institutions.
    Keywords: elections, secret ballot, incumbency advantage, polling stations, voter density, institutions, social capital, Italy
    JEL: D02 D72 H70
    Date: 2019
  4. By: Munoz-Herrera, Manuel (New York University, Abu Dhabi); Reuben, Ernesto (New York University, Abu Dhabi)
    Abstract: In this paper, we study the effects of business culture on market efficiency. We exogenously vary the type of business culture between business-is-business cultures, which consist on impersonal relationships where financial matters are paramount, and business-is-family cultures, which comprise of cohesive personal relationships where financial matters and personal attachments are intertwined. We use a laboratory experiment to assess the effect of business cultures in environments with different degrees of contract enforceability and competition. Our main results indicate that business-is-family cultures are more effective when contracts are unverifiable because they help market participants overcome problems of trust. On the other hand, we find that business-is-business cultures are more effective in competitive settings because they facilitate the severance of ties with unproductive partners.
    Keywords: trust, contracts, competition, business culture, communication, social ties
    JEL: D91 L22 M14
    Date: 2019–06
  5. By: Konstantin Büchel, Maximilian v. Ehrlich, Diego Puga, Elisabet Viladecans-Marsal
    Abstract: Using anonymised cellphone data, we study the role of social networks in residential mobility decisions. Individuals with few local contacts are more likely to change residence. Movers strongly prefer places with more of their contacts close-by. Contacts matter because proximity to them is itself valuable and increases the enjoyment of attractive locations. They also provide hard-to-find local information and reduce frictions, especially in home-search. Local contacts who left recently or are more central are particularly influential. As people age, proximity to family gains importance relative to friends.
    Keywords: social networks, residential mobility
    JEL: R23 L14
    Date: 2019–03
  6. By: Tiziano Distefano; Pietro Guarnieri
    Abstract: This paper contributes to the issue of collective action by advancing an epistemology of agency based on the idea that individuals' propensity to act (attitudes) depends on relevant features of their social context. To this purpose, we develop a network model that links the probability that an agent joins collective action to the characteristics of the social structure, which is, in turn, shaped by the activation of collective actions within it. Our underlying assumption is that preferences for collective action are not only an individual endowment, but crucially depend on collective processes, that affect preference formation and characterize rationality as ecological.
    Keywords: partial decenstralisation; party alignment; accountability; intergovernmental transfers
    JEL: B41 D85 D83
    Date: 2019–07–01
  7. By: Yuan Yuan; Tracy Liu; Chenhao Tan; Qian Chen; Alex Pentland; Jie Tang
    Abstract: Pay-it-forward reciprocity encourages the spread of prosocial behavior. However, existing empirical evidence of pay-it-forward behavior has been largely based on laboratory experiments, which are limited in sample size and external validity. Extending this research, our study uses a natural experiment to examine pay-it-forward reciprocity in a real-life context with a large-scale dataset of 3.4 million users of an online platform. Our natural experiment is enabled by the randomness in the mechanism that WeChat, a Chinese online social networking platform, uses to split an online monetary gift (also known as a "red packet") to its recipients. Our results show that recipients on average pay forward 10.34% of the amount they receive. We further find that "Luckiest draw" recipients, or those who obtain the largest shares of their corresponding red packets, are 1.5 times more likely to pay it forward than other recipients. Our analyses indicate that in a multiple recipient setting, users' pay-it-forward behavior is enforced by a group norm that luckiest draw recipients should send the first subsequent gift and promoted by their distributional social preferences of the random amounts split by the platform. Finally, our study shows that those recipients without any in-group friends do pay it forward, even though their pay-it-forward behavior is less likely to be driven by their reputational concerns among acquaintances. Overall, our work provides insights into mechanisms and conditions that encourage pay-it-forward reciprocity, which have implications for fostering prosocial behavior.
    Date: 2019–06

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