nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2019‒10‒07
ten papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Immigration, fear of crime and public spending on security By Bove, Vincenzo; Elia, Leandro; Ferraresi, Massimiliano
  2. Marriage, Fertility, and Cultural Integration in Italy By Alberto Bisin; Giulia Tura
  3. Human Development, Social Interactions, and Identity Formation By Avner Seror
  4. ow Do Social Preferences and Norms of Reciprocity affect Generalized and Particularized Trust? By Holden, Stein T.; Tilahun , Mesfin
  5. Norms in the Lab: Inexperienced versus Experienced Participants By Schmidt, Robert J.; Schwieren, Christiane; Sproten, Alec N.
  6. Do Injunctive or Descriptive Social Norms Elicited Using Coordination Games Better Explain Social Preferences? By Schmidt, Robert J.
  7. Does social context affect poverty? The role of religious congregations By Ambra, Poggi
  8. Charity as Income Redistribution: A Model with Optimal Taxation, Status, and Social Stigma By Aronsson, Thomas; Johansson-Stenman, Olof; Wendner, Ronald
  9. Geographical Distributions and Equilibrium in Social Norm-Related Behavior in the United States By Coleman, Stephen
  10. Populism, the Backlash against Ruling Politicians and the Possible Malfunctioning of Representative Democracy By Mario, Gilli; Elena, Manzoni;

  1. By: Bove, Vincenzo (University of Warwick); Elia, Leandro (Marche Polytechnic University); Ferraresi, Massimiliano (European Commission, Joint Research Centre)
    Abstract: We explore the relation between immigration, crime and local government spending on security in Italian municipalities. We find that immigration increases the share of public resources devoted to police protection, particularly when migrants are culturally distant from the native population. We uncover a misalignment between perception and reality, as immigration increases fear of future crimes rather than the actual probability of being victim of a crime. We also demonstrate that immigration from culturally distant societies is associated with a deterioration in civic cooperation and interpersonal trust, which can affect perceptions of safety and the demand for police services.
    Keywords: JEL Classification: H71; J15; D72; F52
    Date: 2019
  2. By: Alberto Bisin; Giulia Tura
    Abstract: We study the cultural integration of immigrants, estimating a structural model of marital matching along ethnic dimensions, exploring in detail the role of fertility, and possibly divorce in the integration process. We exploit rich administrative demographic data on the universe of marriages formed in Italy, as well as birth and separation records from 1995 to 2012. We estimate strong preferences of ethnic minorities' towards socialization of children to their own identity, identifying marital selection and fertility choices as fundamental socialization mechanisms. The estimated cultural intolerance of Italians towards immigrant minorities is also substantial. Turning to long-run simulations, we find that cultural intolerances, as well as fertility and homogamy rates, slow-down the cultural integration of some immigrant ethnic minorities, especially Latin America, East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Nonetheless, 75% of immigrants integrate into the majoritarian culture over the period of a generation. Interestingly, we show by counterfactual analysis that a lower cultural intolerance of Italians towards minorities would lead to slower cultural integration by allowing immigrants a more widespread use of their own language rather than Italian in heterogamous marriages. Finally, we quantitatively assess the effects of large future immigration inflows.
    JEL: D1 J12 J13 J15
    Date: 2019–09
  3. By: Avner Seror (AMSE - Aix-Marseille Sciences Economiques - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - ECM - Ecole Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: This paper presents a general theory of child development that incorporates interactive learning and identity formation in social interactions with caregivers. The model sheds light on many puzzling aspects of child development. Child learning responds nonmonotonically to caregivers' attention and approval in social interactions. I highlight key parental characteristics associated with child learning, and identity formation. The theory also explains why media devices widen human inequality. Lessons are finally drawn for the design of policies that alleviate human inequality.
    Keywords: media,human development,human inequality,social interactions,identity,parenting,learning,intergenerational transmission
    Date: 2019–09
  4. By: Holden, Stein T. (Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences); Tilahun , Mesfin (Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences)
    Abstract: We study how social preferences and norms of reciprocity are related to generalized and particularized trust among members of youth business groups in northern Ethiopia. Members of these groups are recruited among land-poor rural youth. The Ethiopian government promotes youth employment among land-poor rural youth by allocating them rehabilitated communal lands for the formation of sustainable businesses. The groups are organized as primary cooperatives, elect their own board, make their own bylaw and prepare a business plan that has to be accepted by the local government. The typical sustainable production activities that the groups are allowed to invest in include apiculture, forestry, horticulture, and livestock production. A recent study found that they to a large extent organize themselves according to Ostrom’s Design Principles (Ostrom 1990; 2010; Holden and Tilahun 2018) and that group performance, including trust, is positively correlated with the degree of compliance with the Design Principles. Our study has used incentivized experiments to elicit social preferences and trust. We use data from 2427 group members in 246 functioning business groups collected in 2019. We find that members with altruistic preferences have stronger norms of reciprocity and are more trustworthy and trusting both in outgroup and ingroup contexts. The norm of reciprocity is stronger in groups with a higher share of altruistic members and this enhances both generalized and particularized trust. The average levels of trust and trustworthiness among group members were low, even in the African context, but there were large variations in average levels of trust and trustworthiness across groups. We can, therefore, rule out that high levels of trust and particular social preferences are necessary for the stability achieved by the majority of these recently established youth business groups in northern Ethiopia. This indicates that the model is quite robust and may be replicable elsewhere.
    Keywords: ocial preferences; norm of reciprocity; trust; trustworthiness; youth; sustainable business
    JEL: C93 D22 D64 D71 D91
    Date: 2019–09–23
  5. By: Schmidt, Robert J.; Schwieren, Christiane; Sproten, Alec N.
    Abstract: Using coordination games, we study whether social norm perception differs between inexperienced and experienced participants in economic laboratory experiments. We find substantial differences between the two groups, both regarding injunctive and descriptive social norms in the context of participation in lab experiments. By contrast, social norm perception for the context of daily life does not differ between the two groups. We therefore conclude that learning through experience is more important than selection effects for understanding differences between the two groups. We also conduct exploratory analyses on the relation between lab and field norms and find that behaving unsocial in an experiment is considered substantially more appropriate than in daily life. This appears inconsistent with the hypothesis that social preferences measured in lab experiments are inflated and indicates a distinction between revealed social preferences as measured commonly and the elicitation of normatively appropriate behavior.
    Keywords: laboratory experiments; selection effects; learning; generalizability; methodology
    Date: 2019–09–27
  6. By: Schmidt, Robert J.
    Abstract: We experimentally study the relationship between social norms and social preferences on the individual level. Subjects coordinate on injunctive and descriptive norms, and we test which type of norm is more strongly related to behavior in a series of dictator games. Our experiment yields three insights. First, both injunctive and descriptive norms explain dictator behavior and recipients' guesses, but perceptions about descriptive social norms are behaviorally more relevant. Second, our findings corroborate that coordination games are a valid tool to elicit social norm perception on the subject level, as the individuals´ coordination choices are good predictors for their actual behavior. Third, average descriptive norms on the population level accurately predict behavior on the population level. This suggests that the elicitation of descriptive social norms using coordination games is a potentially powerful tool to predict behavior in settings that are otherwise difficult to explore.
    Keywords: injunctive social norms; descriptive social norms; social preferences; coordination
    Date: 2019–09–27
  7. By: Ambra, Poggi
    Abstract: This paper contributes to the literature that aims at identifying and measuring the impact of social context on individual-level outcomes. We focus on religious congregations (social groups with which Christian worshipers feel associated) and investigate congregation effects on individual poverty using U.S. data and a multilevel approach. In order to correct for selection effects, we model congregation choice using a multinomial logit model and subsequently incorporate correction components into the multilevel model of congregation effects. Our empirical results support the existence of congregation effects and, therefore, the importance of social context on individual poverty. We find that congregation size, recreational services, initiatives to integrate new members and behavior standards play important roles in shaping the probability that churchgoers experience poverty. Individual behavior (in terms of participation in the religious life of congregations) also matters. These finding are in line with the idea that congregations’ activities can foster social interactions and cooperation reducing individual probability of experiencing poverty.
    Keywords: poverty, religion, social capital, multi-level analysis
    JEL: I32 Z12 C13
    Date: 2019–06
  8. By: Aronsson, Thomas (Department of Economics, Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics, Umeå University, Sweden); Johansson-Stenman, Olof (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Wendner, Ronald (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Graz, Austria)
    Abstract: In light of the increasing inequality in many countries, this paper analyzes redistributive charitable giving from the rich to the poor in a model of optimal nonlinear income taxation. Our framework integrates (i) public and private redistribution, (ii) the warm glow of giving and stigma of receiving charitable donations, and (iii) status concerns emanating from social comparisons with respect to charitable donations and private consumption. Whether charity should be taxed or supported largely depends on the relative strengths of the warm glow of giving and the stigma of receiving charity, respectively, and on the positional externalities caused by charitable donations. In addition, imposing stigma on the mimicker (which relaxes the self-selection constraint) strengthens the case for subsidizing charity. We also consider a case where the government is unable to target the charitable giving through a direct tax instrument, and we examine how the optimal marginal income tax structure should be adjusted in response to charitable giving. Numerical simulations demonstrate that the quantitative effects of the aforementioned mechanisms can be substantial.
    Keywords: Conspicuous consumption; conspicuous charitable giving; social status; optimal income taxation; warm glow; stigma
    JEL: D03 D62 H21 H23
    Date: 2019–09
  9. By: Coleman, Stephen
    Abstract: This research examines the geographical distribution of behavior in line with social norms that are spread and maintained primarily by the effect of social conformity. These include widely held norms that good citizens vote, don’t commit crimes, get flu vaccinations, abstain from binge drinking, and comply with census reporting. A partial differential equation model is used to determine whether such behavior may have attained a geospatial equilibrium in the United States. An equilibrium, as the end state of a diffusion process, has definitive mathematical properties that can be used to test for equilibrium. This is done using recent data for the 48 contiguous states. Results confirm that behavior for several important social norms fits the equilibrium model geographically. Policy implications are briefly discussed.
    Keywords: : social norms, social conformity, geographical, spatial, mathematical model, United States, crime, voting, binge drinking, vaccination, census reporting
    JEL: C2 C21 D7
    Date: 2018–12
  10. By: Mario, Gilli; Elena, Manzoni;
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is to investigate the links between lack of trust in ruling politicians and the functioning of a representative democracy. Within a standard principal-agent model of democracy, we show how lack of trust by citizens as reflected by passive beliefs updating may lead to the malfunctioning of representative democracy. We highlight how de facto accountability crucially depends on out-of-equilibrium beliefs, and that this is indeed descriptive of a substantive feature of public opinion that affects the functioning of democracy. Specifically, we show that effective accountability needs more than simple retrospective voting, as it requires voters to believe in the existence of good politicians that always choose according to voters’ interests, so that a deviation from bad policies can happen only because the leader is congruent. In this case, the unique equilibrium is an efficient one that maximizes voters’ welfare. However, if, on the other hand, the citizens share an overall lack of trust in ruling elites, then there is another inefficient equilibrium, where even the congruent politician behaves badly because of the adverse but rational voters’ behavior. This inefficient equilibrium does not depend on fake news or on distorted beliefs or, again, on voters’ heterogeneous preferences, since the voters' perfectly observe the quality of the policy implemented by the government, are fully rational and share the same interests. This result might contribute to explain the increasing negative perceptions on the working of democracy as due to a self-fulfilling equilibrium.
    Keywords: Government Performance, Democracy, Representation, Out-of-equilibrium Beliefs.
    JEL: H11 D72 D78
    Date: 2019–08

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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