nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2020‒05‒18
twelve papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Social Interactions in Pandemics: Fear, Altruism, and Reciprocity By Laura Alfaro; Ester Faia; Nora Lamersdorf; Farzad Saidi
  2. Trust and Compliance to Public Health Policies in Times of COVID-19 By Olivier BARGAIN; Ulugbek AMINJONOV
  3. The Determinants of Trust: Evidence from Rural South India By Hilger, Anne; Nordman, Christophe Jalil
  4. Riots and social capital in urban India By Alia Aghajanian; Patricia Justino; Jean-Pierre Tranchant
  5. COVID-19 Outbreak, Social Response, and Early Economic Effects: A Global VAR Analysis of Cross-Country Interdependencies By Fabio Milani
  6. Government Capacity, Societal Trust or Party Preferences? What Accounts for the Variety of National Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe? By Toshkov, Dimiter; Yesilkagit, Kutsal; Carroll, Brendan
  7. Social Connectedness in Europe By Bailey, Michael; Kuchler, Theresa; Russel, Dominic; State, Bogdan; Stroebel, Johannes
  8. Substituting Trust by Technology: A Comparative Study By Johanna Rath
  9. Corruption Experiences and Attitudes to Political, Interpersonal, and Domestic Violence By Gillanders, Robert; van der Werff, Lisa
  10. Peers, Gender, and Long-Term Depression By Giulietti, Corrado; Vlassopoulos, Michael; Zenou, Yves
  11. Social mobility and inequality between groups By Patricia Funjika; Rachel M. Gisselquist
  12. Causal Inference on Networks under Continuous Treatment Interference By Davide Del Prete; Laura Forastiere; Valerio Leone Sciabolazza

  1. By: Laura Alfaro; Ester Faia; Nora Lamersdorf; Farzad Saidi
    Abstract: In SIR models, homogeneous or with a network structure, infection rates are assumed to be exogenous. However, individuals adjust their behavior. Using daily data for 89 cities worldwide, we document that mobility falls in response to fear, as approximated by Google search terms. Combining these data with experimentally validated measures of social preferences at the regional level, we find that stringency measures matter less if individuals are more patient and altruistic preference traits, and exhibit less negative reciprocity community traits. We modify the homogeneous SIR and the SIR-network model to include agents' optimizing decisions on social interactions. Susceptible individuals internalize infection risk based on their patience, infected ones do so based on their altruism, and reciprocity matters for internalizing risk in SIR networks. A planner further restricts interactions due to a static and a dynamic inefficiency in the homogeneous SIR model, and due to an additional reciprocity inefficiency in the SIR-network model. We show that partial or targeted lockdown policies are efficient only when it is possible to identify infected individuals.
    JEL: D62 D64 D85 D91 I10
    Date: 2020–05
  2. By: Olivier BARGAIN; Ulugbek AMINJONOV
    Abstract: While degraded trust and cohesion within a country are often shown to have large socio-economic impacts, they can also have dramatic consequences when compliance is required for collective survival. We illustrate this point in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. Policy re-sponses all over the world aim to reduce social interaction and limit contagion. Using data on human mobility and political trust at regional level in Europe, we examine whether the com-pliance to these containment policies depends on the level of trust in policy makers prior to the crisis. Using a double difference approach around the time of lockdown announcements, we find that high-trust regions decrease their mobility related to non-necessary activities significantly more than low-trust regions. We also exploit country and time variation in treatment using the daily strictness of national policies. The efficiency of policy stringency in terms of mobility reduction significantly increases with trust. The trust effect is nonlinear and increases with the degree of stringency. We assess how the impact of trust on mobility potentially translates in terms of mortality growth rate.
    Keywords: COVID-19; Political trust; Policy stringency
    JEL: H12 I12 I18 Z18
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Hilger, Anne (Paris School of Economics); Nordman, Christophe Jalil (IRD, DIAL, Paris-Dauphine)
    Abstract: Trust and participation in social networks are inherently interrelated. We make use of India's demonetization policy, an unexpected and unforeseeable exogenous variation, to causally identify the effect of social networks in determining trust. We use first-hand quantitative and qualitative data from rural South India and control for individual characteristics (personality traits, cognitive ability) that could influence network formation and trust, finding that social interactions have a significant effect on trust among men, as well as across castes. Among lower castes, who live in homogeneous neighborhoods and relied on neighbors and employers to cope, extending one's network lowers trust in neighbors. Among middle castes, who live in more heterogeneous neighborhoods and relied predominantly on other caste members, a larger network size leads to greater trust placed in kin among employees but lesser in neighbors. This paper thus shows that social interactions can foster trust and highlights the importance of clearly defining in- and out-groups in trust measures within highly segregated societies.
    Keywords: India, trust, social networks
    JEL: O12 D85 D91
    Date: 2020–04
  4. By: Alia Aghajanian; Patricia Justino; Jean-Pierre Tranchant
    Abstract: This paper explores the relationship between household exposure to riots and social capital in urban India using a panel dataset collected by the authors in the state of Maharashtra. The analysis applies a random-effect model with lagged covariates to estimate the exogenous effect of riots on social capital. Households living in neighbourhoods prone to riots are more likely to invest in bridging social capital by joining community organizations but reduce face-to-face contact with neighbours.
    Keywords: Riots, Social capital (Sociology), Trust, bonding social capital, bridging social capital, vignettes, Violence
    Date: 2020
  5. By: Fabio Milani (Department of Economics, University of California-Irvine)
    Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of countries' interconnections in understanding and reacting to the spread of the virus. This paper uses a global model with a sample of 41 countries to study the interdependencies between COVID-19 health shocks, populations' risk perceptions about the disease, and their social distancing responses; it also provides some early evidence about potential economic effects. Social networks are a central component in understanding the international transmission. We exploit a dataset on existing social connections across country borders, made available by Facebook, and show that social networks help explain not only the spread of the disease, but also cross-country spillovers in risk perceptions and in social behavior. Social distancing responses across countries are measured based on aggregated mobility tracking indicators, obtained from Google Mobility Reports. We estimate a Global VAR (GVAR) model, which allows for endogeneity of each health, social, and economic, domestic variable, and for a dependence of domestic variables on country-specific foreign aggregates, which depend in turn on the matrix of social connections. Our empirical results highlight the importance of cross-country interdependencies and social networks. Risk perceptions and social responses are affected by experiences abroad, with Italy and the U.S. playing large roles in our sample. The social distancing responses to domestic health shocks are heterogeneous across countries, but they share some similarities: they adjust only gradually and with delay, hence displaying adaptive behavior. Early indicators are suggestive of unemployment consequences that vary widely across countries, depending on their labor market characteristics. Unemployment is particularly responsive to health shocks in the U.S. and Spain, while the fluctuations are attenuated almost everywhere else.
    Keywords: Heterogeneous COVID-19 Pandemic; Health Shocks; Global VAR; Social Networks; Social Distancing; Cross-Country Spillovers; Unemployment Indicators; Google Trends
    JEL: C32 F69 I12 I18 L86 Z13
    Date: 2020–04
  6. By: Toshkov, Dimiter; Yesilkagit, Kutsal; Carroll, Brendan
    Abstract: European states responded to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 with a variety of public policy measures. Governments across the continent acted more or less swiftly to close down schools, restrict arrival into their countries and travel within their territories, ban public meetings, impose local and national lockdowns, declare states of emergency and pass other emergency measures. Importantly, both the mix of policy tools as well as the speed with which they were enacted differed significantly even within the member states of the European Union. In this article we ask what can account for this variation in policy responses, and we identify a number of factors related to institutions, general governance and specific health-sector related capacities, societal trust, government type, and party preferences as possible determinants. Using multivariate regression and survival analysis, we model the speed with which school closures, national lockdowns and states of emergency were announced. The models suggest a number of significant and often counterintuitive relationships: we find that more centralized countries with lower government effectiveness, freedom and societal trust, but with separate ministries of health and health ministers with medical background acted faster and more decisively. These results are important in light of the large positive effects early policy responses likely had on managing the impact of the pandemic.
    Date: 2020–04–28
  7. By: Bailey, Michael; Kuchler, Theresa; Russel, Dominic; State, Bogdan; Stroebel, Johannes
    Abstract: We use aggregated data from Facebook to study the structure of social networks across European regions. Social connectedness declines strongly in geographic distance and at country borders. Historical borders and unions — such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Czechoslovakia, and East/West Germany — shape present-day social connectedness over and above today’s political boundaries. All else equal, social connectedness is stronger between regions with residents of similar ages and education levels, as well as between those that share a language and religion. In contrast, region-pairs with dissimilar incomes tend to be more connected, likely due to increased migration from poorer to richer regions. We find more socially connected region-pairs to have more passenger train trips between them, even after controlling for distance and travel time. We also find that regions with a higher share of connections to other countries have higher rates of trust in the E.U. and lower rates of voting for anti-E.U. political parties.
    Date: 2020–04–28
  8. By: Johanna Rath (Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria)
    Abstract: This study contrasts different effects of applying blockchain technology on a social norm of trust and individual behaviour. The advanced technological features of blockchain could either complete contractual information and prevent coordination failures by substituting the need for trust or allow for some degree of incompleteness in information and favour a reciprocal mechanism of trust to solve for inefficiencies arising out of it. Either way, incomplete information is a necessary condition for the emergence of social norms of trust and reciprocity; hence a change in the completion of contractual information influences the institutional setting that market mechanisms are embedded in. One evolutionary process drives both, the degree of information available and behavioural traits within the society. Technology is neutral, but the way it is applied has different consequences on the institutional setting and thus favours different individual behavioural traits. Blockchain technology might either substitute or complement the need for trust.
    Keywords: trust, incomplete contracts, social norms, coordination failure
    Date: 2020–03
  9. By: Gillanders, Robert; van der Werff, Lisa
    Abstract: It is well understood that corruption can change the incentives to engage in political violence. However, the scope for corruption to change attitudes towards the permissibility of violence has received less attention. Drawing on Moral Foundations Theory, we argue that experiences of corruption in the social environment are likely to shape individual attitudes towards violent behavior. Using data from the Afrobarometer, we document a statistically significant and sizable relationship between an individual’s experience of paying bribes and their attitudes to political, interpersonal, and domestic violence. These relationships are evident for both men and women and, with the exception of women’s attitudes to domestic violence, are robust to the inclusion of variables capturing the local incidence of corruption, local norms regarding violence, and a proxy for the local incidence of violence with the community. We find that corruption is associated with permissive attitudes to violence even after controlling for the perceived legitimacy of the police and courts.
    Keywords: Corruption; Bribery; Violence; Political Violence; Revenge; Domestic Violence; sub-Saharan Africa
    JEL: D73 D74 J16 O1
    Date: 2020–04–29
  10. By: Giulietti, Corrado; Vlassopoulos, Michael; Zenou, Yves
    Abstract: We provide first evidence that peer depression in adolescence affects own depression in adulthood. We use data from Add Health and an identification strategy that relies on within-school and across-cohort idiosyncratic variation in the share of own-gender peers who are depressed. We find a significant peer effect for females but not for males. An increase of one standard deviation of the share of own-gender peers (schoolmates) who are depressed increases the probability of depression in adulthood by 2.6 percentage points for females (or 11.5% of mean depression). We also find that the peer effect is already present in the short term when girls are still in school and provide evidence for why it persists over time. Further analysis reveals that individuals from families with a lower socioeconomic background are more susceptible to peer influence, thereby suggesting that family can function as a buffer. Our findings underscore the importance of peer relationships in adolescence with regard to the development of long-lasting depression in women.
    Keywords: Peer effects,depression,contagion,gender,family background,adolescence,policy
    JEL: I12 Z13
    Date: 2020
  11. By: Patricia Funjika; Rachel M. Gisselquist
    Abstract: The relationship between social mobility and inequality is well studied in the literature, but far greater attention has been paid to 'vertical' than to 'horizontal' inequality. This paper focuses on mobility and horizontal inequality between ethnic, racial, and culturally-defined groups. Not only is persistence in horizontal inequality due to low intergenerational mobility overall, it argues, it also is explained by the lower mobility of disadvantaged compared with advantaged groups in many societies. Group-based discrimination, among other factors, contributes.
    Keywords: Social mobility, Horizontal inequality, Ethnic inequality, Intergenerational Mobility, Discrimination
    Date: 2020
  12. By: Davide Del Prete; Laura Forastiere; Valerio Leone Sciabolazza
    Abstract: This paper presents a methodology to draw causal inference in a non-experimental setting subject to network interference. Specifically, we develop a generalized propensity score-based estimator that allows us to estimate both direct and spillover effects of a continuous treatment, which spreads through weighted and directed edges of a network. To showcase this methodology, we investigate whether and how spillover effects shape the optimal level of policy interventions in agricultural markets. Our results show that, in this context, neglecting interference may lead to a downward bias when assessing policy effectiveness.
    Date: 2020–04

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