nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2019‒12‒09
thirteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Mobilized to Take a Vanguard Role: Communist Party Members’ Participation in the Community Building Campaign By Yu, Ang; Tang, Chengzuo
  2. The Origins of Common Identity: Evidence from Alsace-Lorraine By Sirus Dehdari; Kai Gehring
  3. Post-Truth Overexposure: Media Consumption and Confidence in Institutions By Papazian, Nick
  4. Blood Donations and Incentives: Evidence from a Field Experiment By Goette, Lorenz; Stutzer, Alois
  5. Do Appeals to Donor Benefits Raise More Money than Appeals to Recipient Benefits? Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment with Pick.Click.Give. By John List; James Murphy; Michael Price; Alexander James
  6. Building the Glass House: Transparency and Civic Capital across Italian municipalities By Giuseppe Albanese; Emma Galli; Ilde Rizzo; Carla Scaglioni
  7. Microfinance Performance and Social Capital: A Cross-Country Analysis By Luminita Postelnicu; Niels Hermes
  8. Social Norms in Networks By Ushchev, Philip; Zenou, Yves
  9. Betting on the Lord: Lotteries and Religiosity in Haiti By Auriol, Emmanuelle; Delissaint, Diego; Fourati, Maleke; Miquel-Florensa, Josepa; Seabright, Paul
  10. Incorporating Conditional Morality into Economic Decisions By David Masclet; David L. Dickinson
  11. Requiem for a Nudge: Framing Effects in Nudging Honesty By Eugen Dimant; Gerben A. van Kleef; Shaul Shalvi
  12. The Formation of Social Groups under Status Concern By Staab, Manuel
  13. Nudge, Boost, or Design? Limitations of behaviorally informed policy under social interaction By Reijula, Samuli; Kuorikoski, Jaakko; Ehrig, Timo; Katsikopoulos, Konstantinos; Sunder, Shyam

  1. By: Yu, Ang; Tang, Chengzuo
    Abstract: In the community building campaign launched at the beginning of this century in urban China, the transfer of welfare responsibility to communities and democratization at the grassroots level both have featured prominently. Participation on the part of community residents as volunteers and voters are indispensable to the success of these initiatives. Therefore, grassroots state agents are eager to solicit involvement from those susceptible to their mobilization, including Communist Party members. In this article, we intend to investigate the role of Party members in community volunteering and voting and its differentiation across various social groups and neighborhood contexts. Drawing on nationally representative data, we find that Party members indeed have a stronger propensity to participate than the non- member residents. The effect of Party membership is statistically significant on volunteering but not on voting, and more distinguishable among employed than retired residents. In danwei neighborhoods, the direction of Party membership’s influence is reversed. These findings shed some light on the targets, emphasis, channels and constraints of Party-state’s grassroots mobilization in its quest of maintaining legitimacy in a cost-effective way.
    Date: 2018–10–07
  2. By: Sirus Dehdari; Kai Gehring
    Abstract: The quasi-exogenous division of the French regions Alsace and Lorraine after the Franco-Prussian War allows us to provide evidence about group identity formation within historically homogeneous regions. We use several measures of stated and revealed preferences at the municipal-level in a geographical regression discontinuity design. More nation-state repression is associated with a strengthening of regional identity in the short, medium, and long run. We explain this in a model and document that the establishment of regionalist organizations is a key mechanism to strengthen identity. A relatively stronger regional compared to national identity is associated with preferences for more regional decision-making.
    Keywords: group identity, nation-building, repression, assimilation, regional identity, border regions, Alsace-Lorraine
    JEL: D91 H70 N40 Z19
    Date: 2019
  3. By: Papazian, Nick
    Abstract: Does increased consumption of media affect how the public views the institutions of government and media? This study analyzes the relationships between time spent consuming television and Internet, where a respondent gets their news from (television vs. Internet), and confidence in these institutions. I predict an inverse relationship between exposure to television and Internet and confidence in media and government. I further hypothesize that people who get their news primarily from the Internet have less confidence in these institutions than those who get their news from television. I test this relationship using a sample of 370 respondents from the 2016 General Social Survey (GSS) dataset, controlling for race, gender, political views, education, respondents' family income at the age of 16, and age. OLS regression analysis shows that more hours spent watching television positively impacts confidence in media, and that those who get their news from the Internet have less confidence in the media, as do conservatives, regardless of media consumption. No independent variables determine confidence in government, which is only associated negatively with being conservative. A second regression model using confidence in press instead of media shows that females are significantly less likely to trust the press and that people of color are significantly more likely to trust the press. The relationships from the first model retained their significance. This model shows a higher significance level for the conservative relationship. These differences are discussed along with recommendations for further research.
    Date: 2017–12–17
  4. By: Goette, Lorenz; Stutzer, Alois (University of Basel)
    Abstract: There is a longstanding concern that material rewards might undermine pro-social motivations, thereby leading to a decrease in blood donations. This paper provides an empirical test of how material rewards affect blood donations in a three-month large-scale field experiment and a fifteen-month follow-up period, involving more than 10,000 previous donors. We examine the efficacy of a lottery ticket as a reward vis-à-vis a standard invitation, an appeal, and a free cholesterol test. The offer of a lottery ticket, on average, increases the probability to donate blood during the experiment by 5.6 percentage points over a baseline donation rate of 46 percent. We find that this effect is driven by less motivated donors. Moreover, no reduction in donations is observed after the experiment.
    Keywords: blood donations; field experiment; material rewards; motivation crowding effect; pro-social behavior
    JEL: C93 D64 H41 I18
    Date: 2019–11–13
  5. By: John List (University of Chicago); James Murphy (University of Alaska Anchorage); Michael Price (University of Alabama); Alexander James (University of Alaska Anchorage)
    Abstract: We partnered with Alaska’s Pick.Click.Give. Charitable Contributions Program to implement a statewide natural field experiment with 540,000 Alaskans designed to explore whether targeted appeals emphasizing donor benefits through warm glow impact donations. Results highlight the relative import of appeals to self. Individuals who received such an appeal were 4.5 percent more likely to give and gave 20 percent more than counterparts in the control group. Yet, a message that instead appealed to recipient benefits had no effect on average donations relative to the control group. We also find evidence of long-run effects of warm glow appeals in the subsequent year.
    Keywords: field experiment, experimental economics, charitable giving, philanthropy, warm glow, nonprofits, altruism, Alaska, Permanent Fund Dividend
    JEL: C93 D01 D64 D91 H41 L30 L38 M31 M37
    Date: 2019–11
  6. By: Giuseppe Albanese (Banca d'Italia, sede di Catanzaro); Emma Galli (Università di Roma "La Sapienza"); Ilde Rizzo (Università di Catania); Carla Scaglioni (Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria)
    Abstract: Our paper explores one particular channel through which social capital affects political outcomes, that is transparency. Citizens who share social values are more inclined to get information via transparency and monitor public activity. Thus, we first investigate whether social capital affects the transparency of public action, using a new dimension of the quality of institutions that has not investigated so far; then, we verify if transparency affects the relationship between social capital and the accountability of politicians. We find that civic capital positively affects transparency, suggesting that the quality of the social environment provides an incentive for public agents to become more transparent and therefore more accountable. Our results are robust to different samples and endogeneity concerns.
    Keywords: Transparency, civic capital, political accountability, local governments
    JEL: K2 K4 H3 Z1
    Date: 2019–11
  7. By: Luminita Postelnicu; Niels Hermes
    Abstract: In recent years, the microfinance industry has received a substantial amount of cross-border funding from both public and private sources. This funding reflects the increasing interest in microfinance as part of a more general trend towards socially responsible investments. In order to be able to secure sustained interest from these investors, it is important that the microfinance industry can show evidence of its contribution to reducing poverty at the bottom of the pyramid. For this, it is crucial to understand under what conditions microfinance institutions (MFIs) are able to reduce poverty. This paper contributes to this discussion by investigating the relationship between the extent to which social capital formation is facilitated within different societies and the financial and social performance of MFIs. This focus on social capital formation is important, because in many cases MFIs use group loans with joint liability to incentivize asset-poor borrowers to substitute the lack of physical collateral by their social capital. Hence, the success of a large part of the loan relationship between MFIs and their borrowers depends on the social capital those borrowers can bring into the contract. We carry out a cross-country analysis on a dataset containing 100 countries and identify different social dimensions as proxies for how easy social capital can be developed in different countries. We hypothesize that microfinance is more successful, both in terms of their financial and social aims, in societies that are more conducive to the development of social capital. Our empirical results support our hypothesis.
    Keywords: Financial performance; Microfinance; Social capital; Social performance
    Date: 2018–12
  8. By: Ushchev, Philip (HSE); Zenou, Yves (Monash University)
    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 microfoundation 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
  9. By: Auriol, Emmanuelle; Delissaint, Diego; Fourati, Maleke; Miquel-Florensa, Josepa; Seabright, Paul
    Abstract: We conducted an experimental study in Haiti testing for the relationship between religious belief and individual risk taking behavior. 774 subjects played lotteries in a standard neutral protocol and subsequently with reduced endowments but in the presence of religious images of Catholic, Protestant and Voodoo tradition. Subjects chose between paying to play a lottery with an image of their choice, and saving their money to play with no image. Those who chose the former are dened as image buyers and those who chose the latter as non-buyers. Image buyers, who tend to be less educated, more rural, and to exhibit greater religiosity, bet more than non-buyers in all games. In addition, in the presence of religious images all participants took more risk, and buyer took more risk when playing in the presence of their chosen images than when playing with other images. We develop a theoretical model calibrated with our experimental data to explore the channels through which religious images might aect risk-taking. Our results suggest that the presence of images tends to increase individuals' subjective probability of winning the lottery, and that subjects therefore believe in a god who intervenes actively in the world in response to their requests.
    Keywords: Risk preferences; Religion; Field Experiment
    JEL: C93 D81 Z12
    Date: 2019–11
  10. By: David Masclet; David L. Dickinson
    Abstract: We present a framework that incorporates both moral motivations and fairness considerations into utility. The main idea is that individuals face a preference trade-off between their material individual interest and their desire to follow moral norms. In our model, we assume that moral motivation is conditional and may be influenced by others’ actions. Specifically, in our framework moral obligation is a combination of two main components: an autonomous component and a social influence component that captures the influence of others. Our framework is able to explain many stylized results in the literature and to improve theories of economic behavior. Key Words: Fairness, Ethical Decision Making, Moral Motivation, Behavioral Economics
    JEL: B3 D6 D9
    Date: 2019
  11. By: Eugen Dimant (University of Pennsylvania); Gerben A. van Kleef (University of Amsterdam); Shaul Shalvi (University of Amsterdam)
    Abstract: We examine framing effects in nudging honesty in the spirit of the growing norm-nudge literature by utilizing a high-powered and pre-registered study. Across four treatments, participants received one random truthful norm-nudge that emphasized 'moral suasion' based on either what other participants previously did (empirical message) or approved of doing (normative message) and varied in the framing (positive or negative) in which it was presented. Subsequently, participants repeatedly played the 'mind game' in which they were first asked to think of a number, then roll a digital die, and then reported whether the two numbers coincide, in which case a bonus was paid. Hence, whether or not the report was truthful remained unobservable to the experimenters. We find compelling null effects with tight confidence intervals showing that none of the norm-nudge interventions worked. A follow-up experiment reveals the reason for these convincing null-effects: the information norm-nudges did not actually change norms. Notably, our secondary results suggest that a substantial portion of individuals misremembered norm-nudges such that they conveniently supported deviant behavior. This subset of participants indeed displayed significantly higher deviance levels, a behavior pattern in line with literature on motivated misremembering and belief distortion. We discuss the importance of this high-powered null finding for the flourishing norm-nudge literature and derive policy implications.
    Keywords: Norm-Nudges, Nudge, Social Information, Social Norms
    Date: 2019
  12. By: Staab, Manuel
    Abstract: I study the interaction of two forces in the formation of social groups: the preference for high quality peers and the desire for status among one's peers. I present a characterization of fundamental properties of equilibrium group structures in a perfect information, simultaneous move game when group membership is priced uniformly and cannot directly depend on type. While equilibrium groups generally exhibit some form of assortative matching between individual type and peer quality, the presence of status concern reduces the potential degree of sorting and acts as a force for greater homogeneity across groups. I analyse the effect of status concern for the provision of groups under different market structures and particularly focus on the implications for segregation and social exclusion. I find that status concern reduces the potential for and benefit from segregation - both for a social planner and a monopolist - but the interaction of preference for rank and status can make the exclusion of some agents a second-best outcome.
    Keywords: peer effects, status concern, public goods, network effects
    JEL: D62 D71 H41 L10
    Date: 2019–11
  13. By: Reijula, Samuli; Kuorikoski, Jaakko; Ehrig, Timo; Katsikopoulos, Konstantinos; Sunder, Shyam
    Abstract: Nudge and boost are two competing approaches to applying the psychology of reasoning and decision making to improve policy. Whereas nudges rely on manipulation of choice architecture to steer people towards better choices, the objective of boosts is to develop good decision-making competences. Proponents of both approaches claim capacity to enhance social welfare through better individual decisions. We suggest that such efforts should involve a more careful analysis of how individual and social welfare are related in the policy context. First, individual rationality is not always sufficient or necessary for improving collective outcomes. Second, collective outcomes of complex social interactions among individuals are largely ignored by the focus of both nudge and boost on individual decisions. We suggest that the design of mechanisms and social norms can sometimes lead to better collective outcomes than nudge and boost, and present conditions under which the three approaches (nudge, boost, and design) can be expected to enhance social welfare.
    Date: 2018–03–20

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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