nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2020‒07‒13
thirteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Civic Capital and Social Distancing during the Covid-19 Pandemic By John M. Barrios; Efraim Benmelech; Yael V. Hochberg; Paola Sapienza; Luigi Zingales
  2. Trust in the Healthcare System and COVID-19 Treatment in the Developing World. Survey and Experimental Evidence from Armenia By Armenak Antinyan; Thomas Bassetti; Luca Corazzini; Filippo Pavesi
  3. The Virus of Fear: The Political Impact of Ebola in the U.S. By Campante, Filipe; Depetris-Chauvín, Emilio; Durante, Ruben
  4. The Political Scar of Epidemics By Aksoy, Cevat Giray; Eichengreen, Barry; Saka, Orkun
  5. Internet and politics: evidence from U.K. local elections and local government policies By Gavazza, Alessandro; Nardotto, Mattia; Valletti, Tommaso
  6. From Pink-Collar to Lab Coat. Cultural Persistence and Diffusion of Socialist Gender Norms By Naomi Friedman-Sokuler; Claudia Senik
  7. Interacting collective action problems in the commons By Nicolas Querou
  8. Lying and Mistrust in the Continuous Deception Game By Tobias Beck
  9. The Role of Institutional Trust in Medical Care Seeking during the COVID-19 Pandemic By Wong, Li Ping; Wu, Qunhong; Hao, Yanhua; Chen, Xi; Chen, Zhuo; Alias, Haridah; Shen, Mingwang; Hu, Jingcen; Duan, Shiwei; Zhang, Jinjie; Han, Liyuan
  10. Trading Privacy for the Greater Social Good: How Did America React During COVID-19? By Anindya Ghose; Beibei Li; Meghanath Macha; Chenshuo Sun; Natasha Ying Zhang Foutz
  11. Harming to signal: child marriage vs. public donations in Malawi By Simon Haenni; Guilherme Lichand
  12. Stay-at-Home Orders, Social Distancing and Trust By Brodeur, Abel; Grigoryeva, Idaliya; Kattan, Lamis
  13. Optimal lockdown in altruistic economies By Stefano Bosi; Carmen Camacho; David Desmarchelier

  1. By: John M. Barrios; Efraim Benmelech; Yael V. Hochberg; Paola Sapienza; Luigi Zingales
    Abstract: The success of non-pharmaceutical interventions to contain pandemics often depends greatly upon voluntary compliance with government guidelines. What explains variation in voluntary compliance? Using mobile phone and survey data, we show that during the early phases of COVID-19, voluntary social distancing was higher when individuals exhibit a higher sense of civic duty. This is true for U.S. individuals, U.S. counties, and European regions. We also show that after U.S. states began re-opening, social distancing remained more prevalent in high civic capital counties. Our evidence points to the importance of civic capital in designing public policy responses to pandemics.
    JEL: K42 P16 Z1
    Date: 2020–06
  2. By: Armenak Antinyan (Wenlan School of Business, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law; National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow); Thomas Bassetti (Department of Economics ‘Marco Fanno’, University of Padua); Luca Corazzini (Department of Economics, University Of Venice Cà Foscari; Center for Experimental Research in Management and Economics (CERME)); Filippo Pavesi (School of Economics and Management, LIUC (Carlo Cattaneo University); Stevens Institute of Technology)
    Abstract: Concerns are looming that the healthcare systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are mostly unprepared to combat COVID-19 because of limited resources. The problems in LMICs are exacerbated by the fact that citizens in these countries generally exhibit low trust in the healthcare system, which could trigger a number of uncooperative behaviors. In this paper, we focus on one such behavior and investigate the relationship between trust in the healthcare system and the likelihood of potential treatment-seeking behavior upon the appearance of the first symptoms of COVID-19. First, we provide motivating evidence from a unique national on-line survey administered in Armenia — a post-Soviet LMIC country. We then present results from a large-scale survey experiment in Armenia that provides causal evidence in support of the investigated relationship. Our main finding is that a more trustworthy healthcare system enhances the likelihood of potential treatment-seeking behavior when observing the initial symptoms.
    Keywords: COVID-19, Epidemic, Healthcare system, Trust, Survey experiment
    JEL: C9 I12 I15
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Campante, Filipe; Depetris-Chauvín, Emilio; Durante, Ruben
    Abstract: We study how fear can aï¬?ect the behavior of voters and politicians by looking at the Ebola scare that hit the U.S. a month before the 2014 midterm elections. Exploiting the timing and location of the four cases diagnosed in the U.S., we show that heightened concern about Ebola, as measured by online activity, led to a lower vote share for the Democrats in congressional and gubernatorial elections, as well as lower turnout, despite no evidence of a general anti-incumbent eï¬?ect (including on President Obama's approval ratings). We then show that politicians responded to the Ebola scare by mentioning the disease in connection with immigration, terrorism, and President Obama in newsletters, tweets and campaign ads. This response came only from Republicans, especially those facing competitive races, suggesting a strategic use of the issue in conjunction with topics perceived as favorable to them. Survey evidence suggests that voters responded with increasingly conservative attitudes on immigration but not on other ideologically-charged issues. Taken together, our ï¬ ndings indicate that emotional reactions associated with fear can have a strong electoral impact, that politicians perceive and act strategically in response to this, and that the process is mediated by issues that can be plausibly associated with the speciï¬ c fear-triggering factor.
    Keywords: Ebola; elections; Emotions; Fear; Immigration
    JEL: D72 D91
    Date: 2020–03
  4. By: Aksoy, Cevat Giray (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development); Eichengreen, Barry; Saka, Orkun (University of Essex)
    Abstract: What will be political legacy of the Coronavirus pandemic? We find that epidemic exposure in an individual's "impressionable years" (ages 18 to 25) has a persistent negative effect on confidence in political institutions and leaders. We find similar negative effects on confidence in public health systems, suggesting that the loss of confidence in political leadership and institutions is associated with healthcare-related policies at the time of the epidemic. In line with this argument, our results are mostly driven by individuals who experienced epidemics under weak governments with less capacity to act against the epidemic, disappointing their citizens. We provide evidence of this mechanism by showing that weak governments took longer to introduce policy interventions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These results imply that the Coronavirus may leave behind a long-lasting political scar on the current young generation ("Generation Z").
    Keywords: epidemics, trust, democracy, political approval, COVID-19
    JEL: D72 F50 I19
    Date: 2020–06
  5. By: Gavazza, Alessandro; Nardotto, Mattia; Valletti, Tommaso
    Abstract: We empirically study the effects of broadband internet diffusion on local election outcomes and on local government policies using rich data from the U.K. Our analysis shows that the internet has displaced other media with greater news content (i.e. radio and newspapers), thereby decreasing voter turnout, most notably among less-educated and younger individuals. In turn, we find suggestive evidence that local government expenditures and taxes are lower in areas with greater broadband diffusion, particularly expenditures targeted at less-educated voters. Our findings are consistent with the idea that voters’ information plays a key role in determining electoral participation, government policies, and government size.
    Keywords: local elections; voter turnout; local government expenditure; media; internet
    JEL: D72 H72 H75 L82 L86 N44
    Date: 2019–10–01
  6. By: Naomi Friedman-Sokuler (Bar-Ilan University [Israël]); Claudia Senik (PSE - Paris School of Economics, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, USPC - Université Sorbonne Paris Cité)
    Abstract: The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 led to a massive migration wave from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) to Israel. We document the persistence and transmission of the Soviet unconventional gender norms, both vertically across generations of immigrants, and horizontally through neighborhood and school peer effects. Tracking the educational and occupational choices of a cohort of young Israeli women, we identify the persistence of two important features of the Soviet culture: the prioritization of science and technology, and the strong female attachment to paid-work. Women born in the FSU, who immigrated in infancy, are significantly more likely than natives and other immigrants to major in STEM in high school. In tertiary education, they remain over-represented in STEM, but also differ significantly from other women by their specific avoidance of study fields leading to "pink collar" jobs, such as education and social work. They also display a specific choice of work-life balance reflecting a greater commitment to paid-work. Finally, the choice patterns of native women shift towards STEM and away from traditional female study fields as the share of FSU immigrants in their lower-secondary school increases.
    Keywords: culture,gender norms,education,STEM,occupational choice,immigration,Soviet Union,Israel
    Date: 2020–06
  7. By: Nicolas Querou (CEE-M - Centre d'Economie de l'Environnement - Montpellier - FRE2010 - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - UM - Université de Montpellier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Montpellier SupAgro - Institut national d’études supérieures agronomiques de Montpellier, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: We consider a setting where agents are subject to two types of collective action problems, any group user's individual extraction inducing an externality on others in the same group (intra-group problem), while aggregate extraction in one group induces an externality on each agent in other groups (intergroup problem). One illustrative example of such a setting corresponds to a case where a common-pool resource is jointly extracted in local areas, which are managed by separate groups of individuals extracting the resource in their respective location. The interplay between both types of externality is shown to affect the results obtained in classical models of common-pool resources. We show how the fundamentals affect the individual strategies and welfare compared to the benchmark commons problems. Finally, different initiatives (local cooperation, inter-area agreements) are analyzed to assess whether they may alleviate the problems, and to understand the conditions under which they do so.
    Keywords: common-pool resource,collective action,externalities
    Date: 2020–06–05
  8. By: Tobias Beck (University of Kassel)
    Abstract: I present a novel experimental design to measure lying and mistrust as continuous variables on an individual level. My experiment is a sender-receiver game framed as an investment game. It features two players: firstly, an advisor with complete information (i.e., the sender) who is incentivized to lie about the true value of an optimal investment and, secondly, an investor with incomplete information (i.e., the receiver) who is incentivized to invest optimally and therefore must rely on the alleged optimum reported by the advisor. The extents of lying and mistrust are both measured on continuous scales. This allows observing more differentiated behavior and therefore enables testing of more sophisticated theoretical predictions. I find that the senders lie by overstating the true value of the optimum to an average extent of about 148%, while the receivers suspect them to do so by only 56%. The senders seldomly lie to the fullest possible extent as they correctly expect the receivers to disproportionally mistrust lies of such a high extent. This indicates that people make strategic considerations about their potential to manipulate others when lying. In line with this, I discover that lying and mistrusting behavior can be predicted by first-order beliefs about the other player. Consistent with previous studies, my findings support the conjecture that lying costs increase with the extent of lying. In addition, I provide evidence for some endogenous preference for trust. Both players’ behaviors and beliefs are consistent over time. Moreover, my ex ante classification of both players’ strategy sets is consistent with their ex post self-assessment of their own behavior within the experiment.
    Keywords: Lies, Honesty, Mistrust, Deception Game, Investments, Asymmetric information, Experimental Design
    JEL: C91 D01 D82
    Date: 2020
  9. By: Wong, Li Ping; Wu, Qunhong; Hao, Yanhua; Chen, Xi; Chen, Zhuo; Alias, Haridah; Shen, Mingwang; Hu, Jingcen; Duan, Shiwei; Zhang, Jinjie; Han, Liyuan
    Abstract: This paper investigates the associations between institution trust and public response to the COVID-19 outbreak. An Internet-based, cross-sectional survey was administered on January 29, 2020 to the epicenter Hubei province, China. A total of 4,393 adults who ≥18 years of age and residing or working in the province of Hubei were included in the study. The majority of the participants expressed a higher level of trust in the information and preventive instructions provided by the central government than by the local government. Being under quarantine (adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 2.35, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.80–3.08) and having a high institutional trust score (OR = 2.23, 95% CI 1.96–2.53) were both strong and significant determinants of higher preventive behavior scores. The majority of study participants (85.7%, n = 3,640) reported that they would seek hospital treatment if they suspected themselves to have been infected with COVID-19. Few of the participants from Wuhan (16.6%, n = 475) and those participants who were under quarantine (13.8%, n = 550) expressed an unwillingness to seek hospital treatment. Institutional trust is an important factor influencing adequate preventive behavior and seeking formal medical care during an outbreak.
    Date: 2020
  10. By: Anindya Ghose; Beibei Li; Meghanath Macha; Chenshuo Sun; Natasha Ying Zhang Foutz
    Abstract: Digital contact tracing and analysis of social distancing from smartphone location data are two prime examples of non-therapeutic interventions used in many countries to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. While many understand the importance of trading personal privacy for the public good, others have been alarmed at the potential for surveillance via measures enabled through location tracking on smartphones. In our research, we analyzed massive yet atomic individual-level location data containing over 22 billion records from ten Blue (Democratic) and ten Red (Republican) cities in the U.S., based on which we present, herein, some of the first evidence of how Americans responded to the increasing concerns that government authorities, the private sector, and public health experts might use individual-level location data to track the COVID-19 spread. First, we found a significant decreasing trend of mobile-app location-sharing opt-out. Whereas areas with more Democrats were more privacy-concerned than areas with more Republicans before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant decrease in the overall opt-out rates after COVID-19, and this effect was more salient among Democratic than Republican cities. Second, people who practiced social distancing (i.e., those who traveled less and interacted with fewer close contacts during the pandemic) were also less likely to opt-out, whereas the converse was true for people who practiced less social-distancing. This relationship also was more salient among Democratic than Republican cities. Third, high-income populations and males, compared with low-income populations and females, were more privacy-conscientious and more likely to opt-out of location tracking.
    Date: 2020–06
  11. By: Simon Haenni; Guilherme Lichand
    Abstract: Do people conform to social norms at least partly to signal their social preferences? Using a vignette experiment, we find that parents who do not marry off their under-age daughters in Malawian villages where child marriage is prevalent are perceived as less altruistic, reciprocal, and trustworthy. If parents indeed “harm to signal” in this setting, could alternative signals encourage them to abandon the practice, by offering them other means of showcasing pro-sociality? Randomly assigning public donation drives across 412 villages, we find that those who do not support child marriage are no longer perceived as less pro-social than others in treated high-prevalence villages. Consistent with a new signaling equilibrium, child marriage and teenage pregnancies decrease by nearly 30% in those villages, one year after the intervention.
    Keywords: Child marriage, social norms, social preferences, signaling
    JEL: D91 J12 Z10
    Date: 2020–06
  12. By: Brodeur, Abel; Grigoryeva, Idaliya; Kattan, Lamis
    Abstract: Better understanding whether and how communities respond to government decisions is crucial for policy makers and health offcials 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 effect 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
  13. By: Stefano Bosi (EPEE - Centre d'Etudes des Politiques Economiques - UEVE - Université d'Évry-Val-d'Essonne); Carmen Camacho (PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PSE - Paris School of Economics); David Desmarchelier (BETA - Bureau d'Économie Théorique et Appliquée - UNISTRA - Université de Strasbourg - UL - Université de Lorraine - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)
    Abstract: The recent COVID-19 crisis has revealed the urgent need to study the impact of an infectious disease on market economies and provide adequate policy recommendations. In this regard, we consider here the SIS hypothesis in dynamic general equilibrium models with and without capital accumulation, and we compute the efficient lockdown of altruistic agents. We find that the zero lockdown is efficient if agents are selfish, while a positive lockdown is recommended beyond a critical level of altruism. Moreover, the lockdown intensity increases in the degree of altruism. Our robust analytical results are illustrated by numerical simulations, which show, in particular, that the optimal lockdown never trespasses 60% and that eradication is not always optimal.
    Keywords: optimal lockdown,SIS model,Ramsey model,Ramsey model Keywords: optimal lockdown
    Date: 2020–05

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