nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2020‒05‒25
fourteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Trust in science and experts during the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy By Battiston, Pietro; Kashyap, Ridhi; Rotondi, Valentina
  2. Prosociality predicts health behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic By Pol Campos-Mercade; Armando N. Meier; Florian H. Schneider; Erik Wengström
  3. The Creation of Social Norms under Weak Institutions By Diekert, Florian; Eymess, Tillmann; Luomba, Joseph; Waichman, Israel
  4. International Trade and Social Connectedness By Michael Bailey; Abhinav Gupta; Sebastian Hillenbrand; Theresa Kuchler; Robert Richmond; Johannes Stroebel
  5. Contagion of Pro- and Anti-Social Behavior among Peers and the Role of Social Proximity By Eugen Dimant
  6. Social Networks with Misclassified or Unobserved Links By Arthur Lewbel; Xi Qu; Xun Tang
  7. Promoting social distancing in a pandemic: Beyond the good intentions By Falco, Paolo; Zaccagni, Sarah
  8. Are intergenerational relationships responsible for more COVID-19 cases? A cautionary tale of available empirical evidence By Arpino, Bruno; Bordone, Valeria; Pasqualini, Marta
  9. The effect of retirement on social relationships: new evidence from SHARE. By Simona Lorena Comi; Elena Cottini; Claudio Lucifora
  10. Does Immigration Decrease Far-Right Popularity? Evidence from Finnish Municipalities By Lonsky, Jakub
  11. Dynamic effects of enforcement on cooperation By Roberto Galbiati; Emeric Henry; Nicolas Jacquemet
  12. Responding to (Un)Reasonable Requests by an Authority By Pelligra, Vittorio; Reggiani, Tommaso; Zizzo, Daniel John
  13. Charitable giving by the poor: A field experiment in Kyrgyzstan By Adena, Maja; Hakimov, Rustamdjan; Huck, Steffen
  14. A Dynamic Structural Model of Virus Diffusion and Network Production: A First Report By Victor Aguirregabiria; Jiaying Gu; Yao Luo; Pedro Mira

  1. By: Battiston, Pietro; Kashyap, Ridhi; Rotondi, Valentina (University of Oxford)
    Abstract: Trust in science and experts is extremely important in times of epidemics to ensure compliance with public health measures. Yet little is known about how this trust evolves while an epidemic is underway. In this paper, we examine the dynamics of trust in science and experts in real-time as the high-impact epidemic of Coronavirus (COVID-19) unfolds in Italy, by drawing on digital trace data from Twitter and survey data collected online via Telegram and Facebook. Both Twitter and Telegram data point to initial increases in reliance on and information-seeking from scientists and health authorities with the diffusion of the disease. Consistent with these increases, using a separately fielded online survey we find that knowledge about health information linked to COVID-19 and support for containment measures was fairly widespread. Trust in science, relative to trust in institutions (e.g. local or national government), emerges as a consistent predictor of both knowledge and containment outcomes. However, over time and as the epidemic peaks, we detect a slowdown and turnaround in reliance and information-seeking from scientists and health authorities, which we interpret as signs of an erosion in trust. This is supported by a novel survey experiment, which finds that those holding incorrect beliefs about COVID-19 give no or lower importance to information about the virus when the source of such information is known to be scientific.
    Date: 2020–05–07
  2. By: Pol Campos-Mercade; Armando N. Meier; Florian H. Schneider; Erik Wengström
    Abstract: Socially responsible behavior is crucial for slowing the spread of infectious diseases. However, economic and epidemiological models of disease transmission abstract from prosocial motivations as a driver of behaviors that impact the health of others. In an incentivized study, we show that a large majority of people are very reluctant to put others at risk for their personal benefit. Moreover, this experimental measure of prosociality predicts health behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic, measured in a separate and ostensibly unrelated study with the same people. Prosocial individuals are more likely to follow physical distancing guidelines, stay home when sick, and buy face masks. We also find that prosociality measured two years before the pandemic predicts health behaviors during the pandemic. Our findings indicate that prosociality is a stable, long-term predictor of policy-relevant behaviors, suggesting that the impact of policies on a population may depend on the degree of prosociality.
    Keywords: Social preferences, health behavior, externalities, COVID-19
    JEL: D01 D91 I12 I18
    Date: 2020–05
  3. By: Diekert, Florian; Eymess, Tillmann; Luomba, Joseph; Waichman, Israel
    Abstract: Preventing overfishing at Lake Victoria is a typical situation where policies have to rely on norm-based interventions to improve outcomes. Our lab-in-the-field experiment studies how information about high or low levels of previous cooperation affects the creation of social norms in a three-player prisoner’s dilemma game with/without a feedback mechanism. The provision of social information succeeds in creating norms of cooperation only if a feedback mechanism is available. Without feedback, social information cannot prevent the decline of cooperation rates. Exploring the role of the reference network, we find that the effect increases with social proximity among participants.
    Keywords: common pool resource; collective action; social norms; lab-in-the-field experiment
    Date: 2020–05–14
  4. By: Michael Bailey; Abhinav Gupta; Sebastian Hillenbrand; Theresa Kuchler; Robert Richmond; Johannes Stroebel
    Abstract: We use anonymized data from Facebook to construct a new measure of the pairwise social connectedness between 180 countries and 332 European regions. We find that two countries trade more with each other when they are more socially connected and when they share social connections with a similar set of other countries. The social connections that determine trade in each product are those between the regions where the product is produced in the exporting country and those where it is used in the importing country. Once we control for social connectedness, the estimated effect of geographic distance on trade declines substantially, and the effect of country borders disappears. Our findings suggest that social connectedness increases trade by reducing information asymmetries and by providing a substitute for both trust and formal mechanisms of contract enforcement. We also present evidence against omitted variables and reverse causality as alternative explanations for the observed relationships between social connectedness and trade flows.
    Keywords: international trade, social connectedness, contract enforcement, information frictions
    JEL: F10 F50 F60
    Date: 2020
  5. By: Eugen Dimant
    Abstract: This paper uses a novel experimental design to study the contagion of pro- and anti-social behavior and the role of social proximity among peers. Across systematic variations thereof, we find that anti-social behavior is generally more contagious than pro-social behavior. Surprisingly, we also find that social proximity amplifies the contagion of anti-social behavior more strongly than the contagion of pro-social behavior. Anti-social individuals are also most susceptible to the behavioral contagion of other anti-social peers. These findings paired with the methodological contribution inform the design of effective norm-based policy interventions directed at facilitating pro-social behavior and reducing anti-social behavior in social and economic environments.
    Keywords: behavioral contagion, peer effects, anti-social & pro-social behavior
    JEL: C91 D64 D90
    Date: 2020
  6. By: Arthur Lewbel (Boston College); Xi Qu (Shanghai Jiao Tong University); Xun Tang (Rice University)
    Abstract: We identify and estimate social network models when network links are either misclassified or unobserved in the data. First, we derive conditions under which some misclassification of links does not interfere with the consistency or asymptotic properties of standard instrumental variable estimators of social effects. Second, we construct a consistent estimator of social effects in a model where network links are not observed in the data at all. Our method does not require repeated observations of individual network members. We apply our estimator to data from Tennessee's Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) Project. Without observing the latent network in each classroom, we identify and estimate peer and contextual effects on students' performance in mathematics. We found that peer effects tend to be larger in bigger classes, and that increasing peer effects would significantly improve students' average test scores.
    Keywords: Social networks, Peer effects, Misclassified links, Missing links, Mismeasured network, Unobserved network, Classroom performance
    Date: 2019–07–30
  7. By: Falco, Paolo; Zaccagni, Sarah
    Abstract: Reminders to promote social distancing have been ubiquitous throughout the COVID-19 crisis, but little is known about their effectiveness. Existing studies find positive impacts on intentions to comply, but no evidence exists of actual behavioural change. We conduct a randomised controlled trial with a large representative sample of Danish residents, who receive different versions of a reminder to stay home as much as possible at the height of the crisis. We are the first to measure impacts on both intentions to comply and on realised actions in the following days (i.e., whether the person does stay home). We find that the reminder significantly increases people’s intentions to stay home when it emphasises the consequences of non-compliance for the respondent or his/her family, while it has not impact when the emphasis is on other people or the country as a whole. Changes in intentions, however, translate into weaker changes in actions that are not statistically significant. This is consistent with the existence of important intention-to-action gaps. Only people who are in relatively poor health are significantly more likely to stay home after receiving the reminder with an emphasis on personal and family risks. This shows that while reminders may be useful to protect groups at risk by increasing their own compliance with social distancing, such a tool is unable to change the behaviour of those who face limited personal risks but could spread the disease.
    Date: 2020–05–07
  8. By: Arpino, Bruno; Bordone, Valeria; Pasqualini, Marta
    Abstract: The SARS-CoV-2 virus, originated in Wuhan (China) at the end of 2019, rapidly spread in more than 100 countries. Researchers in different fields have been working on finding explanations for the unequal impact of the virus, and deaths from the associated disease (COVID-19), in different geographical areas. Demographers and other social scientists, have hinted at the importance of demographic factors, such as age structure and intergenerational relationships. The goal of this article is to reflect on the possible link between intergenerational relationships and COVID-19 cases in a critical way. We show that with available aggregate data it is not possible to draw robust evidence to support such a link. In fact, at the country-level higher prevalence of intergenerational co-residence and contacts is broadly positively associated with number of COVID-19 cases (per 100,000 persons), but the opposite is generally true at the sub-national level. While this inconsistent evidence neither demonstrates the existence nor the inexistence of a causal link between intergenerational relationships and the prevalence of COVID-19 cases, we warn against simplistic interpretations of the available data which suffer from many shortcomings. Only retrospective individual level data will provide robust evidence on the role of intergenerational ties. We conclude arguing that intergenerational relationships are not only about physical contacts between family members. From a theoretical point of view, different forms of intergenerational relationships may have causal effects of opposite sign on the diffusion of COVID-19. Policies devoted at fighting the spread of COVID-19 should also take into account that intergenerational ties are a source of instrumental and emotional support, which may favor compliance to the lockdown and “phase-2” restrictions and may buffer their negative consequences on mental health.
    Date: 2020–05–06
  9. By: Simona Lorena Comi; Elena Cottini; Claudio Lucifora (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore; Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
    Abstract: We analyze the causal effect of retirement on the size, composition and intensity of social relationships using data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe for 11 European countries. Our empirical strategy exploits the different retirement eligibility ages as instruments for the endogenous individuals’ retirement decisions and controls for time invariant individual characteristics. We show that retirement changes the composition of the individual’s social network, increasing the share of family members, and decreasing the share of colleagues and friends, while there is no effect on the network’s absolute size. Changes in the social network’s composition are associated with a higher overall satisfaction and more intense relationships. We argue that retirement induces a substitution between weak (friends or colleagues) and strong ties (family), along with an increase in the intensity of the surviving ties. Interestingly this substitution has a gender dimension: females mainly reduce the share of friends while males that of colleagues.
    Keywords: retirement, social relationships, emotional closeness, ageing.
    JEL: J14 J26 C26
    Date: 2020–05
  10. By: Lonsky, Jakub
    Abstract: Across Europe, far-right parties have made significant electoral gains in recent years. Their anti-immigration stance is considered one of the main factors behind their success. Using data from Finland, this paper studies the effect of immigration on voting for the far-right Finns Party on a local level. Exploiting a convenient setup for a shift-share instrument, I find that one percentage point increase in the share of foreign citizens in municipality decreases Finns Party's vote share by 3.4 percentage points. Placebo tests using pre-period data confirm this effect is not driven by persistent trends at the municipality level. The far-right votes lost to immigration are captured by the two pro-immigration parties. Turning to potential mechanisms, immigration is found to increase voter turnout, potentially activating local pro-immigration voters. Moreover, the negative effect is only present in municipalities with high initial exposure to immigrants, consistent with the intergroup contact theory. Finally, I also provide some evidence for welfarestate channel as a plausible mechanism behind the main result.
    Keywords: Immigration,far-right,political economy,voting
    JEL: H71 J15 J61 P16
    Date: 2020
  11. By: Roberto Galbiati (EconomiX - UPN - Université Paris Nanterre - 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 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne, PSE - Paris School of Economics)
    Abstract: In situations where social payoffs are not aligned with private incentives, enforcement with fines can be a way to sustain cooperation. In this paper we show, by the means of a lab experiment , that past fines can have an effect on current behavior even when no longer in force. We document two mechanisms: a) past fines affect directly individuals' future propensity to cooperate; b) when fines for non cooperation are in place in the past, individuals experience higher levels of cooperation from partners and, consistent with indirect reciprocity motives, are in turn nicer towards others once these fines have been removed. This second mechanism is empirically prevalent and, in contrast with the first, induces a snowball effect of past enforcement. Our results can inform the design of costly enforcement policies.
    Keywords: experiments,Laws,social values,cooperation,learning,spillovers,persistence of institutions,repeated games
    Date: 2018–12
  12. By: Pelligra, Vittorio; Reggiani, Tommaso (Cardiff Business School); Zizzo, Daniel John (University of Queensland)
    Abstract: We consider the notions of static and dynamic reasonableness of requests by an authority in a trust game experiment. The authority, modelled as the experimenter, systematically varies the experimental norm of what is expected from trustees to return to trustors, both in terms of the level of each request and in terms of the sequence of the requests. Static reasonableness matters in a self-biased way, in the sense that low requests justify returning less, but high requests tend to be ignored. Dynamic reasonableness also matters, in the sense that, if requests keep increasing, trustees return less compared to the same requests presented in random or decreasing order. Requests never systematically increase trustworthiness but may decrease it.
    Keywords: trust; trustworthiness; authority; reasonableness; moral wiggle room; moral licensing
    JEL: C91 D01 D03 D63
    Date: 2020–05
  13. By: Adena, Maja; Hakimov, Rustamdjan; Huck, Steffen
    Abstract: Previous studies of charitable giving have focused on middle- or high-income earners in Western countries, neglecting the poor, although the lowest income groups are often shown to contribute substantial shares of their income to charitable causes. In a large-scale natural field experiment with over 180,000 clients of a micro-lending company in Kyrgyzstan, we study charitable giving by a population that is much poorer than the typical donors studied so far. In a 2x2 design, we explore two main (pre-registered) hypotheses about giving by the poor: (i) that they are more price sensitive than the rich such that, in contrast to previous studies, matching incentives induce crowding in of out-of-pocket donations; (ii) that they care about their proximity to the charitable project. We find evidence in favor of the former but not the latter.
    Keywords: Charitable giving,field experiments,matching donations
    JEL: C93 D64 D12
    Date: 2020
  14. By: Victor Aguirregabiria; Jiaying Gu; Yao Luo; Pedro Mira
    Abstract: This paper presents a dynamic structural model to evaluate economic and public health effects of the diffusion of COVID-19, as well as the impact of factual and counterfactual public policies. Our framework combines a SIR epidemiological model of virus diffusion with a structural game of network production and social interactions. The economy comprises three types of geographic locations: homes, workplaces, and consumption places. Each individual has her own set of locations where she develops her life. The combination of these sets for all the individuals determines the economy's production and social network. Every day, individuals choose to work and consume either outside (with physical interaction with other people) or remotely (from home, without physical interactions). Working (and consuming) outside is more productive and generates stronger complementarities (positive externality). However, in the presence of a virus, working outside facilitates infection and the diffusion of the virus (negative externality). Individuals are forward-looking. We characterize an equilibrium of the dynamic network game and present an algorithm for its computation. We describe the estimation of the parameters of the model combining several sources of data on COVID-19 in Ontario, Canada: daily epidemiological data; hourly electricity consumption data; and daily cell phone data on individuals' mobility. We use the model to evaluate the health and economic impact of several counterfactual public policies: subsidies for working at home; testing policies; herd immunity; and changes in the network structure. These policies generate substantial differences in the propagation of the virus and its economic impact.
    Keywords: COVID-19; Virus diffusion; Dynamics; Production and social networks; Production externalities; Public health
    JEL: C57 C73 L14 L23 I18
    Date: 2020–05–11

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