nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2020‒06‒08
seven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Asocial Capital: Civic Culture and Social Distancing during COVID-19 By Ruben Durante; Luigi Guiso; Giorgio Gulino
  2. Prosocial Behavior in the Time of COVID-19: The Effect of Private and Public Role Models By Abel, Martin; Brown, Willa
  3. Stay-At-Home Orders, Social Distancing and Trust By Brodeur, Abel; Grigoryeva, Idaliya; Kattan, Lamis
  4. Trust and Compliance to Public Health Policies in Times of COVID-19 By Bargain, Olivier; Aminjonov, Ulugbek
  5. COVID-19, Lockdowns and Well-Being: Evidence from Google Trends By Brodeur, Abel; Clark, Andrew E.; Flèche, Sarah; Powdthavee, Nattavudh
  6. Team Players: How Social Skills Improve Group Performance By Ben Weidmann; David J. Deming
  7. How territorialization can generate social capital: implications on citrus economies By Raffaella Rose

  1. By: Ruben Durante (ICREA, UPF, Barcelona School of Economics, IPEG, and CEPR); Luigi Guiso (EIEF and CEPR); Giorgio Gulino (UPF and Barcelona School of Economics)
    Abstract: Social distancing can slow the spread of COVID-19 if citizens comply with it and internalize the cost of their mobility on others. We study how civic values mediate this process using data on mobility across Italian provinces between January and May 2020. We find robust evidence that after the virus outbreak mobility declined, but significantly more in areas with higher civic capital, both before and after a mandatory national lockdown. Simulating a SIR model calibrated on Italy, we estimate that if all provinces had the same civic capital as those in top-quartile, COVID-related deaths would have been ten times lower.
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Abel, Martin (Middlebury College); Brown, Willa
    Abstract: In public good provision and other collective action problems, people are uncertain about how to balance self-interest and prosociality. Actions of others may inform this decision. We conduct an experiment to test the effect of watching private citizens and public officials acting in ways that either increase or decrease the spread of the coronavirus. For private role models, positive examples lead to a 34% increase in donations to the CDC Emergency Fund and a 20% increase in learning about COVID-19-related volunteering compared to negative examples. For public role models these effects are reversed. Negative examples lead to a 29% and 53% increase in donations and volunteering, respectively. Results are consistent with the Norm Activation Model: positive private role models lead to more prosocial behavior because they increase norms of trust, while negative public role models increase a sense of responsibility among individuals which convinces them to act more prosocially.
    Keywords: COVID-19, role models, public goods, prosociality
    JEL: H41 I21 K30 O15
    Date: 2020–05
  3. By: Brodeur, Abel (University of Ottawa); Grigoryeva, Idaliya (Stanford University); Kattan, Lamis (University of Ottawa)
    Abstract: Better understanding whether and how communities respond to government decisions is crucial for policy makers and health officials in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this study, we document the socioeconomic determinants of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders' compliance in the U.S. Using cell phone data measuring changes in average distance traveled and non-essential visitation, we find that: stay-at-home orders reduce mobility by about 8­–10 percentage points; high-trust counties decrease their mobility significantly more than low-trust counties post-lockdown; and counties with relatively more self-declared democrats decrease significantly more their mobility. We also provide evidence that the estimated eeffct on compliance post-lockdown is especially large for trust in the press, and relatively smaller for trust in science, medicine or government.
    Keywords: COVID-19, stay-at-home orders, social distancing, trust
    JEL: H12 I12 I18
    Date: 2020–05
  4. By: Bargain, Olivier (University of Aix-Marseille II); Aminjonov, Ulugbek (University of Bordeaux)
    Abstract: While degraded trust and cohesion within a country are often shown to have large socioeconomic 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 responses 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 compliance 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: 2020–05
  5. By: Brodeur, Abel (University of Ottawa); Clark, Andrew E. (Paris School of Economics); Flèche, Sarah (Aix-Marseille University); Powdthavee, Nattavudh (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has led many governments to implement lockdowns. While lockdowns may help to contain the spread of the virus, they may result in substantial damage to population well-being. We use Google Trends data to test whether the lockdowns implemented in Europe and America led to changes in well-being related topic search terms. Using differences-in-differences and a regression discontinuity design to evaluate the causal effects of lockdown, we find a substantial increase in the search intensity for boredom in Europe and the US. We also found a significant increase in searches for loneliness, worry and sadness, while searches for stress, suicide and divorce on the contrary fell. Our results suggest that people's mental health may have been severely affected by the lockdown.
    Keywords: boredom, COVID-19, loneliness, well-being
    JEL: I12 I31 J22
    Date: 2020–05
  6. By: Ben Weidmann; David J. Deming
    Abstract: Most jobs require teamwork. Are some people good team players? In this paper we design and test a new method for identifying individual contributions to group performance. We randomly assign people to multiple teams and predict team performance based on previously assessed individual skills. Some people consistently cause their group to exceed its predicted performance. We call these individuals “team players”. Team players score significantly higher on a well-established measure of social intelligence, but do not differ across a variety of other dimensions, including IQ, personality, education and gender. Social skills – defined as a single latent factor that combines social intelligence scores with the team player effect – improve group performance about as much as IQ. We find suggestive evidence that team players increase effort among teammates.
    JEL: J01
    Date: 2020–05
  7. By: Raffaella Rose (Department of Economics, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain)
    Abstract: Thanks to its pedoclimatic pre-conditions and the great anthropogenic modification of the natural environment of the coastal plain due to the integral reclamation (1930-1950), the territory of the Sibari plain (CS), within a few decades, from marshy and malarial, has turned into one of the most valuable area of citrus production. It is here that the 50% of the total Italian production of clementines is produced (Ismea, 2016). The study of the clementinization of the Sibari plain, in this case, is an expedient to understand how and in what way, the territorialization processes in the specific place and in the long run, have been useful in building social capital. Moreover, the role that the specific social capital plays in the citrus economy of the Plain, especially in building cooperative networks for citrus marketing.
    Keywords: Territorialization, Calabria, Social Capital, Cooperatives, Citrus Production and Marketing, Complex Networks
    JEL: J54 Q13 D85
    Date: 2020

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