nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2020‒06‒22
twelve papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. International Trade and Social Connectedness By Bailey, Michael; Gupta, Abhinav; Hillenbrand, Sebastian; Kuchler, Theresa; Richmond, Robert; Ströbel, Johannes
  2. Social Exclusion and Ethnic Segregation in Schools: The Role of Teacher's Ethnic Prejudice By Sule Alan; Enes Duysak; Elif Kubilay; Ipek Mumcu
  3. Bitter Sugar: Slavery and the Black Family By Graziella Bertocchi; Arcangelo Dimico
  4. Ancestral Norms, Legal Origins, and Female Empowerment By Abel Brodeur; Marie Christelle Mabeu; Roland Pongou
  5. More than Words: Leaders' Speech and Risky Behavior During a Pandemic By Ajzenman, Nicolas; Cavalcanti, Tiago; Da Mata, Daniel
  6. Social capital and the spread of Covid-19: Insights from European countries By Bartscher, Alina Kristin; Seitz, Sebastian; Slotwinski, Michaela; Wehrhöfer, Nils; Siegloch, Sebastian
  7. Shelter in Place? Depends on the Place: Corruption and Social Distancing in American States By Dincer, Oguzhan; Gillanders, Robert
  8. COVID-19 and Social Distancing in the Absence of Legal Enforcement: Survey Evidence from Japan By Shoji, Masahiro; Cato, Susumu; Iida, Takashi; Ishida, Kenji; Ito, Asei; McElwain, Kenneth
  9. Lost in lockdown? COVID-19, social distancing, and mental health in Germany By Armbruster, Stephanie; Klotzbücher, Valentin
  10. Driven by Institutions, Shaped by Culture: Human Capital and the Secularization of Marriage in Italy By de la Croix, David; Mariani, Fabio; Mercier, Marion
  11. Who wants to get involved? Determinants of citizens’ willingness to participate in German renewable energy cooperatives By Beate Fischer; Gunnar Gutsche; Heike Wetzel
  12. Social Interaction and Technology Adoption: Experimental Evidence from Improved Cookstoves in Mali By Jacopo Bonan; Pietro Battiston; Jaimie Bleck; Philippe LeMay-Boucher; Stefano Pareglio; Bassirou Sarr; Massimo Tavoni

  1. By: Bailey, Michael; Gupta, Abhinav; Hillenbrand, Sebastian; Kuchler, Theresa; Richmond, Robert; Ströbel, Johannes
    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: Contract enforcement; Information Frictions; international trade; Social Connectedness
    JEL: F1 F5 F6
    Date: 2020–04
  2. By: Sule Alan (University of Essex); Enes Duysak (University of Essex); Elif Kubilay (University of Essex); Ipek Mumcu (University of Exeter)
    Abstract: Using uniquely detailed data on primary school children, we show that teachers who hold prejudicial attitudes towards an ethnic group create socially segregated classrooms. We identify this relationship by exploiting a natural experiment where newly arrived refugee children are randomly assigned to teachers. We elicit children's social networks to construct multiple measures of social exclusion and ethnic segregation in classrooms. We find that teachers' ethnic prejudice, measured by an Implicit Association Test, significantly lowers the prevalence of social ties between host and refugee children, increases homophily amongst host children, and puts refugee children at a higher risk of bullying victimization. Our results suggest that teachers' ethnic prejudice may be a significant barrier against building cohesive schools in ethnically diverse communities.
    Keywords: ethnic prejudice, integration, social exclusion, ethnic segregation
    JEL: I24 J15
    Date: 2020–06
  3. By: Graziella Bertocchi (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, EIEF, CEPR, CHILD, Dondena, GLO, and IZA); Arcangelo Dimico (Queen's University Belfast, GLO, IZA, CHaRMS, and QUCEH)
    Abstract: We empirically assess the effect of historical slavery on the African American family structure. Our hypothesis is that female single headship among blacks is more likely to emerge in association not with slavery per se, but with slavery in sugar plantations, since the extreme demographic and social conditions prevailing in the latter have persistently affected family formation patterns. By exploiting the exogenous variation in sugar suitability, we establish the following. In 1850, sugar suitability is indeed associated with extreme demographic outcomes within the slave population. Over the period 1880-1940, higher sugar suitability determines a higher likelihood of single female headship. The effect is driven by blacks and starts fading in 1920 in connection with the Great Migration. OLS estimates are complemented with a matching estimator and a fuzzy RDD. Over a linked sample between 1880 and 1930, we identify an even stronger intergenerational legacy of sugar planting for migrants. By 1990, the effect of sugar is replaced by that of slavery and the black share, consistent with the spread of its influence through migration and intermarriage, and black incarceration emerges as a powerful mediator. By matching slaves' ethnic origins with ethnographic data we rule out any influence of African cultural traditions.
    Date: 2020
  4. By: Abel Brodeur (Department of Economics, University of Ottawa); Marie Christelle Mabeu (Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON); Roland Pongou (Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON)
    Abstract: A large literature documents persistent impacts of formal historical institutions. However, very little is known about how these institutions interact with ancestral traditions to determine long-term economic and social outcomes. This paper addresses this question by studying the persistent effect of legal origins on female economic empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa, and how ancestral cultural norms of gender roles may attenuate or exacerbate this effect. Taking advantage of the arbitrary division of ancestral ethnic homelands across countries with different legal origins, we directly compare women among the same ethnic group living in civil law countries and common law countries. We find that, on average, women in common law countries are significantly more educated, are more likely to work in the professional sector, and are less likely to marry at young age. However, these effects are either absent or significantly lower in settings where ancestral cultural norms do not promote women's rights and empowerment. In particular, we find little effect in bride price societies, patrilocal societies, and societies where women were not involved in agriculture in the past. Our findings imply that to be optimal, the design of formal institutions should account for ancestral traditions.
    Keywords: Legal Origins, Ancestral Norms, Women's Empowerment, Gender Roles.
    JEL: D03 I25 J16 N37
    Date: 2020
  5. By: Ajzenman, Nicolas; Cavalcanti, Tiago; Da Mata, Daniel
    Abstract: How do political leader's words and actions affect people's behavior? We address this question in the context of Brazil by combining electoral information and geo-localized mobile phone data for more than 60 million devices throughout the entire country. We find that after Brazil's president publicly and emphatically dismissed the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and advised against isolation, the social distancing measures taken by citizens in pro-government localities weakened compared to places where political support of the president is less strong, while pre-event effects are insignificant. The impact is large and robust to different empirical model specifications. Moreover, we find suggestive evidence that this impact is driven by localities with relatively higher levels of media penetration and is stronger in municipalities with a larger proportion of Evangelic parishioners, a key group in terms of support for the president.
    Keywords: Coronavirus; health; leadership; Persuasion; Risky behavior
    JEL: D1 I31 Z13
    Date: 2020–05
  6. By: Bartscher, Alina Kristin; Seitz, Sebastian; Slotwinski, Michaela; Wehrhöfer, Nils; Siegloch, Sebastian
    Abstract: We explore the role of social capital in the spread of the recent Covid-19 pan­demic in independent analyses for Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Swe­den, Switzerland and the UK. We exploit within-country variation in social capital and Covid-19 cases to show that high-social-capital areas accumulated between 12% and 32% fewer Covid-19 cases per capita from mid-March until mid-May. Using Italy as a case study, we find that high-social-capital areas exhibit lower excess mortality and a decline in mobility. Our results have important implications for the design of local containment policies in future waves of the pandemic.
    Keywords: Covid-19,social capital,collective action,health costs,Europe
    JEL: D04 A13 D91 H11 H12 I10 I18
    Date: 2020
  7. By: Dincer, Oguzhan; Gillanders, Robert
    Abstract: This paper investigates the links between corruption and compliance with social distancing during COVID-19 pandemic in America. Both theory and empirical evidence point to a corrosive effect of corruption on trust/social capital which in turn determine people’s behavior towards compliance with public health policies. Using data from 50 states we find that people who live in more corrupt states are less likely to comply with so called shelter in place/stay at home orders.
    Keywords: Corruption; COVID-19; Social Distancing; Trust; Social Capital; American States
    JEL: D70 D73 H75 I18
    Date: 2020–05
  8. By: Shoji, Masahiro; Cato, Susumu; Iida, Takashi; Ishida, Kenji; Ito, Asei; McElwain, Kenneth
    Abstract: Do people keep social distance to mitigate the infection risk of COVID-19, even without aggressive policy interventions? The Japanese government did not restrict individuals’ activities despite the early confirmation of infections, and as a result, economic damages were limited in the initial stage of infection spread. Exploiting these features, we examine the association between the subsequent increase in infections and voluntary social-distancing behavior. Using unique monthly panel survey data, we find that the increase in risk is associated with the likelihood of social-distancing behavior. However, those with lower educational attainment are less responsive, implying their higher exposure to infections. We provide evidence that this can be attributed to their underestimation of infection risk, while we cannot fully rule out the roles of income opportunity costs and poor information access. These results suggest the utility of interventions incorporating nudges to raise risk perception, as well as financial support for low-income households.
    Keywords: COVID-19; pandemic; social distancing; risk perception; nudge
    JEL: I12 I14 I18
    Date: 2020–05–28
  9. By: Armbruster, Stephanie; Klotzbücher, Valentin
    Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic and social-distancing and stay-at-home orders can directly affect mental health and quality of life. In this ongoing project, we analyze rich data from Telefonseelsorge, the largest German helpline service, to better understand the effect of the pandemic and of local lockdown measures on mental health-related helpline contacts. First, looking at Germany-wide changes, we find that overall helpline contacts increase by around 20% in the first week of the lockdown and slowly decrease again after the third lockdown week. Our results suggest that the increase is not driven by financial worries or fear of the virus itself, but reflects heightened loneliness, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Second, we exploit spatial variation in policies among German federal states to assess whether the effect depends on the stringency of local measures. Preliminary evidence suggests that the average effect is more pronounced in states that implemented stricter measures.
    Keywords: COVID-19,Stay-at-Home Orders,Mental Health
    JEL: I12 I3
    Date: 2020
  10. By: de la Croix, David; Mariani, Fabio; Mercier, Marion
    Abstract: We study the mechanisms behind the process of secularization and how they relate to human capital accumulation. We find a robust, positive correlation between human capital and secularization in marriage. Secularization is more responsive to education (i) in the presence of high levels of social capital and/or weak family ties, and (ii) following the legalization of divorce in 1971. To understand the mechanisms behind these results, we develop a theory of religiosity, education, and marriage choices, in which individuals who divorce face a relatively higher return to human capital compared to religious capital. Our theory suggests that a positive association between human capital and secularization can emerge across individuals (and localities) even in the absence of a direct effect of education on religiosity. Consistent with our empirical findings, the legalization of divorce plays a central role in unleashing the forces of secularization in marriage, and different patterns in the education--secularization nexus can be traced to different systems of incentives, as shaped by civic capital and family ties.
    Keywords: Divorce; Human Capital; Marriage; Secularization
    JEL: I25 J12 N34 O4 Z12
    Date: 2020–05
  11. By: Beate Fischer (University of Kassel); Gunnar Gutsche (University of Kassel); Heike Wetzel (University of Kassel)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the potential for citizen participation in renewable energy cooperatives and in the energy transition process. We consider representative survey data for more than 4,200 financial decision-makers in German households and analyze (i) differences between members and non-members of renewable energy cooperatives, (ii) non-members’ willingness to participate in energy cooperatives, and (iii) factors determining citizen participation in terms of not only voluntary involvement, but also private investments. We find that the lack of familiarity with energy cooperatives among non-members is a limiting factor for the expansion of citizen participation, a finding that indicates the potential of information campaigns. However, we also reveal a substantial participation potential, as about 40% of the non-members who are familiar with the term “energy cooperative†express a high willingness to become involved. Our econometric analysis based on bivariate binary probit models complements the current state of research by showing the relevance of economic preferences such as time preferences, trust, and negative reciprocity. Interestingly, psychological personality traits, measured by the Big Five, are found to be of minor importance. We additionally confirm the findings of earlier work with regard to the relevance of individual environmental values, social contextual factors, and social norms.
    Keywords: Citizen participation, community renewable energy, energy transition, Big Five personality traits, economic preferences, social norms
    JEL: G11 M14 Q01 Q49 Q56
    Date: 2020
  12. By: Jacopo Bonan; Pietro Battiston; Jaimie Bleck; Philippe LeMay-Boucher; Stefano Pareglio; Bassirou Sarr; Massimo Tavoni
    Abstract: Easy-to-use and risk-free technologies, which require little investment and potentially provide health and environmental benefits, often have low adoption rates. Using a randomized experiment in urban Mali, we assess the impact of a training session in which information on an improved cookstove (ICS) is provided along with the opportunity to purchase the product at the market price. We find direct and spillover effects from our invitation to the session on ICS ownership and usage. We then randomly assign half of the training participants to receive information on a peer's actual purchase. Our results indicate that conditional on receiving information, an individual is more likely to adopt the product if informed about a peer they know and who purchased the product. Our sessions have no discernible impact on product knowledge or household welfare. We argue that social interaction, through imitation, can represent an important channel for increasing take-up and diffusion.
    Keywords: Technology Adoption, Social Interaction, Imitation Effects, Cookstoves, Mali
    JEL: D91 O33 O13 M31
    Date: 2020–05

This nep-soc issue is ©2020 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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