nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2019‒11‒25
eight papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. On the political and social consequences of economic inequality: Civic engagement in Colombia By Justino Patricia; Arjona Ana; Cárdenas Juan; Ibáñez Ana; Vallejo Julian
  2. Voting for Democracy: Chile's Plebiscito and the Electoral Participation of a Generation By Ethan Kaplan; Fernando Saltiel; Sergio S. Urzúa
  3. Network Formation in Large Groups By Syngjoo Choi; Sanjeev Goyal; Fr¢¥ed¢¥eric Moisan
  4. The Interplay of Economic, Social and Political Fragmentation By Steven J. Bosworth; Dennis J. Snower
  5. Social norms as a barrier to women’s employment in developing countries By Jayachandran Seema
  6. Eat Widely, Vote Wisely? Lessons from a Campaign Against Vote Buying in Uganda By Blattman, Chris; Larreguy, Horacio; Marx, Benjamin; Reid, Otis
  7. The benefit of the doubt: Willful ignorance and altruistic punishment By Stüber, Robert
  8. Twitter "Hashjacked": Online Polarisation Strategies of Germany's Political Far-Right By Darius, Philipp; Stephany, Fabian

  1. By: Justino Patricia; Arjona Ana; Cárdenas Juan; Ibáñez Ana; Vallejo Julian
    Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of inequality on individual civic engagement at the community level, whether this impact persists over time, and what mechanisms may shape the relationship between inequality and civic engagement.The results show that inequality in Colombia is associated with increases in individual participation in political organizations, including increased membership, meeting attendance, and assumption of leadership roles. Mechanisms explaining this effect include elite influence, strong connectivity between community members, and high individual aspirations. The effect is strongest in the medium term and weakens over time.
    Keywords: Economic inequality,Civic participation,Collective action,Colombia
    Date: 2019
  2. By: Ethan Kaplan; Fernando Saltiel; Sergio S. Urzúa
    Abstract: This paper assesses if voting for democracy affects long-term electoral participation. We study the effects of participating in Chile's 1988 plebiscite, which determined whether democracy would be reinstated after a 15-year long military dictatorship. Taking advantage of individual-level voting data for upwards of 13 million Chileans, we implement an age-based RD design comparing long run registration and turnout rates across marginally eligible and ineligible individuals. We find that Plebiscite eligibility (participation) significantly increased electoral turnout three decades later, reaching 1.8 (3.3) percentage points in the 2017 Presidential election. These effects are robust to different specifications and distinctive to the 1988 referendum. We discuss potential mechanisms concluding that the scale of initial mobilization explains the estimated effects. We find that plebiscite eligibility induced a sizable share of less educated voters to register to vote compared to eligibles in other upstream elections. Since less educated voters tended to support Chile's governing left-wing coalition, we argue that the plebiscite contributed to the emergence of one party rule the twenty years following democratization.
    JEL: C21 D72 N46
    Date: 2019–11
  3. By: Syngjoo Choi; Sanjeev Goyal; Fr¢¥ed¢¥eric Moisan
    Abstract: We conduct an experiment to understand the principles that govern network formation. The design of the experiment builds on a model of linking and efforts taken from Galeotti and Goyal [2010]. In order to reduce cognitive complexity facing human subjects and facilitate learning, we develop a new experimental platform that integrates a network visualization tool using an algorithm of Barnes and Hut [1986] with an interactive tool of asynchronous choices in continuous time. Our experiment provides strong support for macroscopic predictions of the theory: there is specialization in linking and e?orts across all treatments. Moreover, and in line with the theory, the specialization is more pronounced in larger groups. Thus subjects abide by the law of the few. Information on payo?s provided to subjects a?ects their behavior and yields di?erential welfare consequences. In the treatment where subjects see only their own payo?s, in large groups, the most connected individuals compete ?ercely they exert large efforts and have small earnings. By contrast, when a subject sees everyone¡¯s payo?s, in large groups, the most connected individuals engage in less intense competition they exert little e?ort and have large earnings. The e?ects of information are much more muted in small groups.
    JEL: C92 D83 D85 Z13
    Date: 2019–03
  4. By: Steven J. Bosworth; Dennis J. Snower
    Abstract: This paper examines how skill-biased growth can generate economic fragmentation (income dis-parities) that give rise to social fragmentation (the adoption of increasingly incompatible social identities and values), which generate political fragmentation (the adoption of increasingly incompatible economic policies). Our model of social fragmentation focuses on three values-driven identities: individualism (focused on status concerns), communitarianism (focused on the benefits of social affiliations), and multi-affilatedness (encompassing both individualistic and communitarian objectives). Our analysis shows how the high-, middle- and low-skilled people are drawn to individualistic, multi-affiliated and communitarian objectives, respectively. We show how skill-biased growth leads to an expansion of the individualistic and communitarian groups, at the expense of the tolerant multi-affiliates. Consequently, there is a narrowing of the moral foundations driving economic policy. We examine the conditions under which these developments increase size of the political constituency for protectionist-nationalist policies (which destroy productivity, compress the income distribution and promote the benefits of social affiliation).
    Date: 2019
  5. By: Jayachandran Seema
    Abstract: This paper discusses cultural barriers to women’s participation and success in the labor market in developing countries. I begin by describing how gender norms influence the relationship between economic development and female employment, as well as how gender norms differ substantially across societies at the same level of economic development. I then discuss in more detail specific gender-related social norms and how they constrain women’s employment. I present examples of policies aimed at dismantling these cultural barriers to female employment and the impacts they have.
    Keywords: Institutions,Social norms,Employment,Female labour force,Culture,Developing countries,Economic development,Labor supply
    Date: 2019
  6. By: Blattman, Chris; Larreguy, Horacio; Marx, Benjamin; Reid, Otis
    Abstract: We estimate the effects of one of the largest anti-vote-buying campaigns ever studied—with half a million voters exposed across 1427 villages—in Uganda’s 2016 elections. Working with civil society organizations, we designed the study to estimate how voters and candidates responded to their campaign in treatment and spillover villages, and how impacts varied with campaign intensity. Despite its heavy footprint, the campaign did not reduce politician offers of gifts in exchange for votes. However, it had sizable effects on people’s votes. Votes swung from well-funded incumbents (who buy most votes) towards their poorly-financed challengers. We argue the swing arose from changes in village social norms plus the tactical response of candidates. While the campaign struggled to instill norms of refusing gifts, it leveled the electoral playing field by convincing some voters to abandon norms of reciprocity—thus accepting gifts from politicians but voting for their preferred candidate.
    Date: 2019–09–10
  7. By: Stüber, Robert
    Abstract: Altruistic punishment is often thought to be a major enforcement mechanism of social norms. I present experimental results from a modified version of the dictator game with third-party punishment, in which third parties can remain ignorant about the choice of the dictator. I find that a substantial fraction of subjects choose not to reveal the dictator's choice and not to punish the dictator. I show that this behavior is in line with the social norms that prevail in a situation of initial ignorance. Remaining ignorant and choosing not to punish is not inappropriate. As a result, altruistic punishment is significantly lower when the dictator's choice is initially hidden. The decrease in altruistic punishment leads to more selfish dictator behavior only if dictators are explicitly informed about the effect of willful ignorance on punishment rates. Hence, in scenarios in which third parties can ignore information and dictators know what this implies, third-party punishment may only ineffectively enforce social norms.
    Keywords: Third-party punishment,Willful ignorance,Sorting,Social preference
    JEL: C91 D01 D63 D83
    Date: 2019
  8. By: Darius, Philipp; Stephany, Fabian
    Abstract: With a network approach, we examine the case of the German far-right party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and their potential use of a "hashjacking" strategy - the use of someone else’s hashtag in order to promote one's own social media agenda. Our findings suggest that right-wing politicians (and their supporters/retweeters) actively and effectively polarise the discourse not just by using their own party hashtags, but also by "hashjacking" the political party hashtags of other established parties. The results underline the necessity to understand the success of right-wing parties, online and in elections, not entirely as a result of external effects (e.g. migration), but as a direct consequence of their digital political communication strategy.
    Date: 2019–10–10

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.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.