nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2019‒12‒02
fifteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. The Economics of Change and Stability in Social Trust: Evidence from (and for) Catalan Secession By Bjørnskov, Christian; Borrella-Mas, Miguel Ángel; Rode, Martin
  2. United in Diversity? An Empirical Investigation on Europe's Regional Social Capital By Braesemann, Fabian; Stephany, Fabian
  3. Learning to cooperate in the shadow of the law By Roberto Galbiati; Emeric Henry; Nicolas Jacquemet
  4. Electoral Democracy at Work By Philippe Askenazy; Thomas Breda
  5. Social Norms in Networks By Ushchev, Philip; Zenou, Yves
  6. Curse of the Mummy-ji: The Influence of Mothers-in-Law on Women's Social Networks, Mobility, and Reproductive Health in India By Anukriti,S; Herrera-Almanza, Catalina; karra, Mahesh; Pathak, Praveen
  7. Crowdfunding and Social Capital : A Systematic Literature Review By W. Cai; F.H.J. Polzin; F.C. Stam
  8. Can Weak Ties Create Social Capital? Evidence from Self-Help Groups in Rural India By Ashwini Deshpande; Shantanu Khanna
  9. Impacts of Urbanisation on Trust: Evidence from an Experiment in the Field By Elvis Cheng Xu
  10. Social identity and social value orientations By Aksoy, Ozan
  11. Cooperation and Creed: An Experimental Study of Religious Affiliation in Strategic and Societal Interactions By Kirk, H.
  12. One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Plurality of Social Norms and Saving Behavior in Kenya By Hanna Fromell; Daniele Nosenzo; Trudy Owens; Fabio Tufano
  13. Political Activists as Free-Riders: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment By Hager, Anselm; Hensel, Lukas; Hermle, Johannes; Roth, Christopher
  14. Confirmation Bias in Social Networks By Marcos Fernandes
  15. Follow the leader? A field experiment on social influence By Kate Ambler; Susan Godlonton; María P. Recalde

  1. By: Bjørnskov, Christian (Aarhus University); Borrella-Mas, Miguel Ángel (Universidad de Navarra); Rode, Martin (Universidad de Navarra)
    Abstract: Consequences of social trust are comparatively well studied, while its societal determinants are often subject to debate. This paper studies both in the context of Catalan attempts to secede from Spain: First, we test if Catalonia enjoys higher levels of social capital that it is prevented from capitalizing on. Second, the paper examines whether secessionist movements create animosity and political divisions within society that undermine trust. Employing the eight available waves of the European Social Survey for Spain, we show that social trust levels are not higher in Catalonia than in the rest of the country. However, we find indications of a significant regional increase after secession became a real option in 2014. We argue that this finding is a likely result of the mental process of nation building, indicating that the formation of social trust may best be thought of as a stable punctuated equilibrium.
    Keywords: Social trust; Secession; Social change; Stability
    JEL: H77 R50 Z13
    Date: 2019–11–04
  2. By: Braesemann, Fabian; Stephany, Fabian
    Abstract: Aiming to explain the European divide with respect to social and political values, scholars in the past have relied on a simplified four- (or even two-) dimensional regime model which tranches the continent according to the social capacities of its inhabitants. This "cartography" of "Social Europe" proves to be outdated by the results presented in this study which re-measures the social capital landscape in Europe. In this work, we apply a factor analysis model to the most commonly used approximations of social capital on the European Social Survey. In addition, we explore, as a novelty in social capital literature, a classification tree to model generalized trust. The analysis shows that three distinct dimensions of social capital measures are important in Europe: additionally to generalised social capital, which is usually approximated by generalised trust, there is one dimension of civic engagement and one of communitarian values. This distinction leads to a new social landscape of Europe, which highlights the relevance of considering regional and cross-border clusters in all relevant social capital dimensions.The results of the non-parametric model reveal that Protestantism and education are good benchmarks to classify trust on an individual level. Based on these findings we argue for the necessity of policies with a regional focus that take the different sub-national structures of social capacity in Europe into account. We re-measure the European Social Capital landscape using current data and provide a novel non-parametrical statistical method from data science for this purpose.
    Date: 2019–08–25
  3. By: Roberto Galbiati (OSC - Observatoire sociologique du changement - Sciences Po - Sciences Po - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Emeric Henry (ECON - Département d'économie (Sciences Po) - Sciences Po - Sciences Po - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Nicolas Jacquemet (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: How does the exposure to past institutions affect current cooperation? While a growing literature focuses on behavioral channels, we show how cooperation-enforcing institutions affect rational learning about the group's value. Strong institutions, by inducing members to cooperate , may hinder learning about intrinsic values in the group. We show, using a lab experiment with independent interactions and random rematching, that participants behave in accordance with a learning model, and in particular react differently to actions of past partners whether they were played in an environment with coercive enforcement or not.
    Keywords: Enforcement,social values,cooperation,learning,spillovers,persistence of insti- tutions,repeated games,experiments
    Date: 2019–06–03
  4. By: Philippe Askenazy (CMH - Centre Maurice Halbwachs - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Thomas Breda (PSE - Paris School of Economics, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: We evaluate the short- to medium-run effects on unionization and employers' and workers' trust in unions, of an important reform of French employment relations in 2008. This reform made the conditions for union recognition more liberal and democratic after 2008 in private firms with 11 employees or more. The law gave equal chances to all unions to be recognized for bargaining, putting an end to the quasi-monopoly given to five historical unions until then. The law also introduced votes and minimal electoral requirements to obtain union recognition. These new regulations only became fully effective at the first firms' work councils elections happening after January 1st, 2009. Those elections occur within each firm according to a pre-defined frequency - usually every four years -, so that election dates only depend on former election dates, and can be considered as quasi-random with respect to the application date of the new law, at least in firms that are old enough. The identification thus relies on a regression discontinuity design in which the running variable is the firms' work councils election date: we compare in early 2011 firms that had those elections just before or just after January 1st, 2009. We find that the democratic rules introduced in 2008 quickly improved employers' satisfaction and trust towards unions by around 45% of a standard deviation. Union coverage and membership at the establishment level also increased strongly due to the reform and work stoppages became more likely. Together, these results suggest that the introduction of electoral democracy in French firms managed to improve workers' participation in unions and their ability to voice concerns while also improving employers' opinions of unions.
    Keywords: Union Representativeness,Democracy,Unionization,Social Capital
    Date: 2019–07
  5. By: Ushchev, Philip (National Research University); Zenou, Yves (Monash Universitiy)
    Abstract: Although the linear-in-means model is the workhorse model in empirical work on peer effects, its theoretical properties are understudied. In this study, we develop a social-norm model that provides a micro foundation of the linear-in-means model and investigate its properties. We show that individual outcomes may increase, decrease, or vary non-monotonically with the taste for conformity. Equilibria are usually inefficient and, to restore the first best, the planner needs to subsidize (tax) agents whose neighbors make efforts above (below) the social norms. Thus, giving more subsidies to more central agents is not necessarily efficient. We also discuss the policy implications of our model in terms of education and crime.
    Keywords: Social norms; Conformism; Local-average model; Welfare; Anti-conformism; Network formation
    JEL: D85 J15 Z13
    Date: 2019–11–18
  6. By: Anukriti,S; Herrera-Almanza, Catalina; karra, Mahesh; Pathak, Praveen
    Abstract: Restrictive social norms and strategic constraints imposed by family members can limit women’s access to and benefits from social networks, especially in patrilocal societies. We characterize young married women’s social networks in rural India and analyze how inter-generational power dynamics within the household affect their network formation. Using primary data from Uttar Pradesh, India, we find that co-residence with the mother-in-law restricts her daughter-in-law’s mobility and ability to form social connections outside the household, especially those related to health, fertility, and family planning. These restrictions are mainly motivated by the misalignment of fertility preferences between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law. Using an instrumental variables approach, we show that women who have fewer peers outside the household due to co-residence with the mother-in-law are less likely to visit a family planning clinic and to use modern contraception. We find suggestive evidence that these results operate through at least two channels of peer influence: outside peers alter a woman’s beliefs about the social acceptability of family planning (“information channel”) and help her overcome the mobility constraints imposed by her mother-in-law by accompanying her to the clinic (“companionship channel”).
    Keywords: Consumer/Household Economics, Institutional and Behavioral Economics
    Date: 2019–11–15
  7. By: W. Cai; F.H.J. Polzin; F.C. Stam
    Abstract: Crowdfunding has been rising rapidly as a new entrepreneurial finance channel. Research on crowdfunding has also been on the rise recently, with social capital theory as one of the most promising theories for understanding crowdfunding. Research on the relationship between social capital and crowdfunding includes many different perspectives and uses a large variety of classifications of social capital. This paper aims to provide a comprehensive review of how social capital affects crowdfunding. This paper classifies social capital into structural, relational and cognitive dimensions and describes elements of each dimension of social capital based on social capital research. Based on this classification, this paper expands the scope of social capital crowdfunding research to studies involving facets of social capital such as trust and identity. This paper conceptually analyses how each facet of social capital affects crowdfunding. Based on this review of research, a synthetic model is built to explain how different facets of social capital develop in virtual communities and how they interplay with each other and finally affect crowdfunding success. We finish this paper with directions for future research.
    Keywords: Social Capital, Crowdfunding, Virtual Community, systematic literature review
    Date: 2019–02
  8. By: Ashwini Deshpande (Ashoka University); Shantanu Khanna (University of California, Irvine)
    Abstract: The “strength of weak ties†has been established in the context of labour market outcomes, with theoretical and empirical investigation showing how weak ties lead to an increase in mobility and job opportunities. The impact of weak ties on community organisation is less well understood. We contribute to this literature by investigating if weak ties, generated via membership of livelihood programmes, can lead to the creation or enhancement of social capital. Based on data from one of the largest independent primary surveys for India, we find that participation in self-help groups had little impact on livelihoods, but led to the creation of significant social capital, as measured by indicators related to personal efficacy and collective action. The bulk of existing evidence on livelihood programmes is based on small samples. Our large sample size and innovative survey design allow us to detect a larger number of effects with greater certainty. We argue that the social capital generated by the programme is a significant positive impact (even though the main target of the programme is to strengthen livelihoods), as it strengthens the process of women’s empowerment.
    Keywords: Rural Livelihoods, Self-Help Groups, Social Capital, Women’s Empowerment, India
    Date: 2019–11
  9. By: Elvis Cheng Xu (Nottingham University Business School China)
    Abstract: We conduct a field trust game under a natural experiment context to test the impacts of urbanisation on trust. We conjecture that urbanisation, defined in this context as the process of state-led rural-urban migration, contributes to a transformation of trust levels among co-villagers and towards outsiders. We test this conjecture in an experimental approach and more generally, examine whether the urbanisation will produce significant impacts on in-group trust and out-group trust. The research finds that urbanisation does not decrease significantly the trust towards co-villagers, meaning the in-group trust did not change statistically significantly. However, the trust towards outsiders does increase as a result of the state-led urbanisation. We also run a regression on the trust exhibited towards participants in the experiment and found the partial effect of whether they are co-villagers or outsiders weakens as a result of the urbanisation, and therefore conclude urbanisation decreases out-group discrimination in trust.
    Keywords: Urbanisation, Trust, Field Experiment
    Date: 2019–10
  10. By: Aksoy, Ozan
    Abstract: This study provides an extension of the social value orientation model and a tool, other-other Decomposed Games, to quantify the influence of social identity on social value orientations. Social identity is induced experimentally using the minimal group paradigm. Subsequently, the weights subjects add to the outcomes of outgroup others relative to ingroup others and to the absolute difference between the outcomes of ingroup and outgroup others are estimated. Results are compared to a control condition in which social identity is not induced. Results show that when the outgroup is better off than the ingroup, the average subject is spiteful: they derive negative utility from the outcomes of the outgroup other. When the ougroup is worse off than the ingroup, the average subject attaches similar weights to the outcomes of outgroup and ingroup others. There is also significant variation across subjects with respect to the level of ingroup bias.
    Date: 2019–03–15
  11. By: Kirk, H.
    Abstract: This paper investigates the relative role of religion in trust networks and proposes a model of the interaction between material payoffs and norm-dependent utility, permitting cooperative equilibria. Four influences on decision-making - believing in religion, stereotyping, belonging to a group, and priming - are tested in the laboratory, using an adapted trust game. The experimental design builds on a classic trust game but reveals characteristics of Responders and Proposers in multiple rounds, better aligning with societal interactions where both parties condition actions and reactions on available information. Religious individuals are both more trusting and trusted; stereotyped trust is a rational strategy. A Cambridge University sample provides unique collegiate affiliation confirming that dense secular networks equally but less intensely promote trust.
    Keywords: Decision-Making, Trust, Reciprocity, Religiosity, Design of Experiments, Group Affiliation
    JEL: C9 D03 D91 Z12 Z13
    Date: 2019–11–18
  12. By: Hanna Fromell (University of Groningen); Daniele Nosenzo (University of Nottingham, School of Economics & Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)); Trudy Owens (University of Nottingham, School of Economics); Fabio Tufano (University of Nottingham, School of Economics)
    Abstract: We measure the social norms of sharing income with kin and neighbors in villages in Kenya. We find a plurality of norms: from a strict norm prohibiting wealth accumulation to a norm facilitating saving. Several individual and social network characteristics predict the norms upheld; the pro-saving norm becomes majoritarian when an individual can conceal their income from kin and neighbors. Whether income secrecy facilitates savings depends on the type of norm individuals uphold: stricter norm supporters are helped by secrecy, pro-saving norm supporters are harmed. This highlights the importance of measuring social norms when devising pro-saving policy interventions.
    Keywords: Sharing norms; forced solidarity; social pressure; savings; social norms; KrupkaWeber method; lab-in-the-field experiment
    Date: 2019–12
  13. By: Hager, Anselm (University of Konstanz); Hensel, Lukas (University of Oxford); Hermle, Johannes (University of California, Berkeley); Roth, Christopher (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: How does a citizen's decision to participate in political activism depend on the participation of others? We examine this core question of collective action in a nation-wide natural field experiment in collaboration with a major European party during a recent national election. In a seemingly unrelated party survey, we randomly assign canvassers to true information about the canvassing intentions of their peers. Using survey evidence and behavioral data from the party's smartphone canvassing application, we find that treated canvassers significantly reduce both their canvassing intentions and behavior when learning that their peers participate more in canvassing than previously believed. These treatment effects are particularly large for supporters who have weaker social ties to the party, and for supporters with higher career concerns within the party. The evidence implies that effort choices of political activists are, on average, strategic substitutes. However, social ties to other activists can act as a force for strategic complementarity.
    Keywords: political activism, natural field experiment, strategic behavior, beliefs
    JEL: D8 P16
    Date: 2019–11
  14. By: Marcos Fernandes
    Abstract: I propose a social learning model that investigates how confimatory bias affects public opinion when agents exchange information over a social network. For that, besides exchanging opinions with friends, individuals observe a public sequence of potentially ambiguous signals and they interpret it according to a rule that accounts for confirmation bias. I first show that, regardless the level of ambiguity and both in the case of a single individual or of a networked society, only two types of opinions might be formed and both are biased. One opinion type, however, is necessarily less biased (more efficient) than the other depending on the state of the world. The size of both biases depends on the ambiguity level and the relative magnitude of the state and confirmatory biases. In this context, long-run learning is not attained even when individuals interpret ambiguity impartially. Finally, since it is not trivial to ascertain analytically the probability of emergence of the efficient consensus when individuals are connected through a social network and have different priors, I use simulations to analyze its determinants. Three main results derived from this exercise are that, in expected terms, i) some network topologies are more conducive to consensus efficiency, ii) some degree of partisanship enhances consensus efficiency even under confirmatory bias and iii) open-mindedness, i.e. when partisans agree to exchange opinions with other partisans with polar opposite beliefs, might harm efficiency in some cases.
    Date: 2019
  15. By: Kate Ambler (International Food Policy Research Institute); Susan Godlonton (Williams College); María P. Recalde (The University of Melbourne)
    Abstract: We conduct an artefactual field experiment with farmers in endogenously formed groups in rural Malawi to investigate social influence in risk taking. Our experiment minimizes influence through social learning and social image channels. Treatments vary whether individuals observe the behavior of a formally elected leader, an external leader, or a random peer. Results show that peers are most influential, followed by formal leaders, and then external leaders. Exploratory analysis suggests that farmers follow peers because they extract information from their choices and share risks with them; while other forms of social utility are gained from following the example of leaders.
    Keywords: peer effects, risk taking, lab-in-the-field, agriculture, Malawi
    JEL: C9 D8 O13 Q12
    Date: 2019–11–22

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