nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2020‒07‒20
seventeen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Social Capital and the Spread of COVID-19: Insights from European Countries By Bartscher, Alina Kristin; Seitz, Sebastian; Siegloch, Sebastian; Slotwinski, Michaela; Wehrhöfer, Nils
  2. Trust in science and experts during the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy By Battiston, Pietro; Kashyap, Ridhi; Rotondi, Valentina
  3. From Immigrants to Americans: Race and Assimilation during the Great Migration By Fouka, Vasiliki; Mazumder, Soumyajit; Tabellini, Marco
  4. Social Groups and the Effectiveness of Protests By Battaglini, Marco; Morton, Rebecca; Patacchini, Eleonora
  5. The Social Cost of Contacts: Theory and Evidence for the COVID-19 Pandemic in Germany By Martin F. Quaas; Jasper N. Meya; Hanna Schenk; Björn Bos; Moritz A. Drupp; Till Requate
  6. Spreading the disease: The role of culture By Laliotis, Ioannis; Minos, Dimitrios
  7. What do lost wallets tell us about survey measures of social capital? By David Tannenbaum; Alain Cohn; Christian Lukas Zünd; Michel André Maréchal
  8. Using Social Connections and Financial Incentives to Solve Coordination Failure: A Quasi-Field Experiment in India's Manufacturing Sector By Afridi, Farzana; Dhillon, Amrita; Li, Sherry Xin; Sharma, Swati
  9. The Cultural Origin of Saving Behavior By Costa Font, Joan; Giuliano, Paola; Ozcan, Berkay
  10. Conflicts in Spatial Networks By Amarasinghe, Ashani; Raschky, Paul A.; Zenou, Yves; Zhou, Junjie
  11. Can Digitalization Help Deter Corruption in Africa? By Rasmané Ouedraogo; Amadou N Sy
  12. All Things Equal? Social Networks as a Mechanism for Discrimination By Chika O. Okafor
  13. Social Connections and Racial Wage Inequality By Tenev, Nicholas H
  14. There's More to Marriage than Love: The Effect of Legal Status and Cultural Distance on Intermarriages and Separations By Adda, Jérôme; Pinotti, Paolo; Tura, Giulia
  15. Trust and trustworthiness after negative random shocks By Bejarano, Hernan; Gillet, Joris; Lara, Ismael Rodríguez
  16. From Pink-Collar to Lab Coat. Cultural Persistence and Diffusion of Socialist Gender Norms By Naomi Friedman-Sokuler; Claudia Senik
  17. Exclusion bias and the estimation of peer effects By Caeyers, Bet; Fafchamps, Marcel

  1. By: Bartscher, Alina Kristin (University of Bonn); Seitz, Sebastian (ZEW Mannheim); Siegloch, Sebastian (University of Mannheim); Slotwinski, Michaela (University of Basel); Wehrhöfer, Nils (ZEW Mannheim)
    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. Exploiting within-country variation, we show that a one standard deviation increase in social capital leads to 12% and 32% fewer Covid-19 cases per capita accumulated 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: 2020–05
  2. 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: 2020–05–11
  3. By: Fouka, Vasiliki; Mazumder, Soumyajit; Tabellini, Marco
    Abstract: How does the appearance of a new immigrant group affect the integration of earlier generations of migrants? We study this question in the context of the first Great Migration (1915-1930), when 1.5 million African Americans moved from the US South to northern urban centers, where 30 million Europeans had arrived since 1850. We exploit plausibly exogenous variation induced by the interaction between 1900 settlements of southern-born blacks in northern cities and state-level out-migration from the US South after 1910. Black arrivals increased both the effort exerted by immigrants to assimilate and their eventual Americanization. These average effects mask substantial heterogeneity: while initially less integrated groups (i.e. Southern and Eastern Europeans) exerted more assimilation effort, assimilation success was larger for those culturally closer to native whites (i.e. Western and Northern Europeans). We show that these patterns cannot be entirely explained by economic forces. Our findings are instead more consistent with a framework in which changing perceptions of outgroup distance among the majority group lower the barriers to the assimilation of less distant minorities.
    Keywords: Assimilation; Great Migration; group identity; Immigration; race
    JEL: J11 J15 N32
    Date: 2020–02
  4. By: Battaglini, Marco; Morton, Rebecca; Patacchini, Eleonora
    Abstract: We present an informational theory of public protests, according to which public protests allow citizens to aggregate privately dispersed information and signal it to the policy maker. The model predicts that information sharing of signals within social groups can facilitate information aggregation when the social groups are sufficiently large even when it is not predicted with individual signals. We use experiments in the laboratory and on Amazon Mechanical Turk to test these predictions. We find that information sharing in social groups significantly affects citizens' protest decisions and as a consequence mitigates the effects of high conflict, leading to greater efficiency in policy makers' choices. Our experiments highlight that social media can play an important role in protests beyond simply a way in which citizens can coordinate their actions; and indeed that the information aggregation and the coordination motives behind public protests are intimately connected and cannot be conceptually separated.
    Keywords: Petitions; Public Protests; Social groups
    JEL: D72 D78
    Date: 2020–02
  5. By: Martin F. Quaas; Jasper N. Meya; Hanna Schenk; Björn Bos; Moritz A. Drupp; Till Requate
    Abstract: Building on the epidemiological SIR model we present an economic model with heterogeneous individuals deriving utility from social contacts creating infection risks. Focusing on social distancing of individuals susceptible to an infection we theoretically analyze the gap between private and social cost of contacts. To quantify this gap, we calibrate the model using German survey data on social distancing and impure altruism from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The optimal policy reduces contacts drastically in the beginning, to almost eradicate the epidemic, and keeps them at around a third of pre-pandemic levels with minor group-specific differences until a vaccine becomes tangible. Private protection efforts stabilize the epidemic in the laissez faire, though at a prevalence of infections much higher than optimal. Impure altruistic behaviour closes more than a quarter of the initial gap towards the social optimum. Our results suggests that private actions for self-protection and for the protection of others contribute substantially toward alleviating the problem of social cost.
    Keywords: COVID-19, coronavirus, economic-epidemiology, private public good provision, impure altruism, uncertainty, SIR, social distancing, epidemic control
    JEL: I18 D62 D64
    Date: 2020
  6. By: Laliotis, Ioannis; Minos, Dimitrios
    Abstract: This paper investigates the “cultural” transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak.Using West Germany data we observe that in predominantly Catholic regions with stronger social and family ties, the spread and the resulting deaths per capita were much higher compared to non-Catholic ones at the NUTS-3 level. This finding could help explain the rapid spread and high death toll of the virus in some European countries compared to others in the initial stage. Looking at differences within a specific country in a well identified setting eliminates biases due to different social structures, healthcare systems, specific policies and measures, and testing procedures for the virus that can confound estimates and hinder comparability across countries. Further,we use individual level data as well as Apple mobility data to investigate potential mechanisms. The results highlight the cultural dimension of the spread and could suggest the implementation of targeted mitigation measures in light of disease outbreaks
    Date: 2020–06–16
  7. By: David Tannenbaum; Alain Cohn; Christian Lukas Zünd; Michel André Maréchal
    Abstract: We validate survey measures of social capital with a new data set that examines whether citizens report a lost wallet to its owner. Using data from more than 17,000 lost wallets across 40 countries, we find that survey measures of social capital - especially questions concerning generalized trust or generalized morality - are strongly and significantly correlated with country-level differences in wallet reporting rates. A second finding is that lost wallet reporting rates predict unique variation in economic development and government effectiveness not captured by existing measures, suggesting this data set also holds promise as a useful indicator of social capital.
    Keywords: Social capital, trust, honesty, field experiment, surveys
    JEL: C93 C83 Z10 O10
    Date: 2020–06
  8. By: Afridi, Farzana; Dhillon, Amrita; Li, Sherry Xin; Sharma, Swati
    Abstract: Production processes are often organized in teams, yet there is limited evidence on whether and how social connections and financial incentives affect productivity in tasks that require coordination among workers. We simulate assembly line production in a lab-in-the-field experiment in which workers exert real effort in a minimum-effort game in teams whose members are either socially connected or unconnected and are paid according to the group output. We find that group output increases by 18%, and coordination improves by 30-39% when workers are socially connected with their co-workers. These findings can plausibly be explained by the higher levels of pro-social motivation between co-workers in socially connected teams.
    Keywords: caste-based networks; coordination; Financial incentives; minimum effort game; output; social incentives
    JEL: C93 D20 D22 D24 J33
    Date: 2020–01
  9. By: Costa Font, Joan; Giuliano, Paola; Ozcan, Berkay
    Abstract: Traditional economic interpretations have not been successful in explaining differences in saving rates across countries. One hypothesis is that savings respond to cultural specific social norms. A seminal paper in economics (1) however did not find any effect of culture on savings. We revisit this evidence using a novel dataset, which allows us to study the saving behavior of up to three generations of immigrants in the United Kingdom. Against the backdrop of existing evidence, we find that cultural preferences are an important explanation for cross-country differences in saving behavior, and their relevance persists up to three generations.
    Keywords: Culture; Saving
    JEL: D0 Z1
    Date: 2020–02
  10. By: Amarasinghe, Ashani; Raschky, Paul A.; Zenou, Yves; Zhou, Junjie
    Abstract: We develop a network model of conflict in which players are involved in different battles. A negative shock in one locality affects the conflict in this locality but may also increase battles in path-connected localities depending on the location of the battle in the network and the strength of each locality involved in each battle. We then empirically test this model by analyzing the effect of local natural disasters on battles in Africa. We construct a novel panel-dataset that combines geo-referenced information about battle events and natural disasters at the monthly level for 5,944 districts in 53 African countries over the period from 1989 to 2015. At this fine temporal and spatial resolution, natural disasters are formidable exogenous shocks that affect the costs and benefits of fighting in a locality. We find that natural disasters decrease battle incidence in the affected locality and that this effect persists over time and space. This mitigating effect appears to be more pronounced in more developed localities. As highlighted by the model, these results can be explained by the fact that natural disasters divert fighting activity to surrounding localities, particularly those that are connected via geographic and road networks.
    Keywords: Africa; battle; Natural Disasters; Spillovers
    JEL: D85 O55
    Date: 2020–01
  11. By: Rasmané Ouedraogo; Amadou N Sy
    Abstract: This paper studies the effect of digitalization on the perception of corruption and trust in tax officials in Africa. Using individual-level data from Afrobarometer surveys and several indices of digitalization, we find that an increase in digital adoption is associated with a reduction in the perception of corruption and an increase in trust in tax officials. Exploiting the exogeneous deployment of submarine cables at the local level, the paper provides evidence of a negative impact of the use of Internet on the perception of corruption. Yet, the paper shows that the dampening effect of digitalization on corruption is hindered in countries where the government has a pattern of intentionally shutting down the Internet, while countries that successfully promote information and communication technology (ICT) enjoy a more amplified effect.
    Date: 2020–05–29
  12. By: Chika O. Okafor
    Abstract: I study labor markets in which firms can hire via job referrals. Despite full equality in the initial time period (e.g., equal ability, employment, wages, and network structure), unequal wages and employment still emerge over time between majority and minority workers, due to homophily---the well-documented tendency for people to associate more with others similar to themselves. This inequality can be mitigated by minority workers having more social ties or a "stronger-knit" network. Hence, this paper uncovers a direct mechanism for discriminatory outcomes that neither relies on past inequality nor on discriminatory motives (i.e., neither of the prevailing economic models of taste-based and statistical discrimination). These findings introduce multiple policy implications, including disproving a primary justification for "colorblind" policies---namely disproving the position that such policies are inherently merit-enhancing.
    Date: 2020–06
  13. By: Tenev, Nicholas H (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency)
    Abstract: How much of the wage gap between black workers and others in the US owes to differences in jobs found through social connections? Panel data from the NLSY79 are used to estimate a job search model in which individual human capital is distinguished from social capital by comparing the wages and frequency of jobs found directly with those of jobs found through friends. Jobs found through friends tend to pay more, but this premium is lower for black workers; the difference can account for 10% of the racial wage gap.
    Date: 2020–05–13
  14. By: Adda, Jérôme; Pinotti, Paolo; Tura, Giulia
    Abstract: This paper analyses the marriage decisions of natives and migrants focusing on the role of legal status and cultural distance. We exploit the successive enlargements of the European Union as a natural experiment that granted legal status only to some groups of foreign immigrants. Using Italian administrative data on the universe of marriages and separations, we show that access to legal status reduces by 60 percent the probability of immigrants intermarrying with natives, and it increases by 20 percent the hazard rate of separation for mixed couples formed before legal status acquisition. Building on this evidence, we develop and structurally estimate a multidimensional equilibrium model of marriage and separation, where individuals match on observed and unobserved characteristics. Allowing for trade-offs between cultural distance, legal status, and other socio-economic spousal characteristics, we quantify the role of legal status and the strength of cultural affinity. Through the evaluation of counterfactual policies, we show that granting legal status to migrants to foster their inclusion in the legal labor market paradoxically slows down the integration of minorities along cultural lines. We also show how recent migration waves will foster a gender marital imbalance within those communities.
    Keywords: Cultural distance; Intermarriages; legal status; Marital Matching; Separations
    JEL: J11 J12 J15
    Date: 2020–02
  15. By: Bejarano, Hernan; Gillet, Joris; Lara, Ismael Rodríguez
    Abstract: We investigate experimentally the effect of a negative endowment shock in a trust game to assess whether different causes of inequality have different effects on trust and trustworthiness. In our trust game there may be inequality in favor of the second mover and this may (or may not) be the result of a negative random shock (i.e., the outcome of a die roll) that decreases the endowment of the first-mover. Our findings suggest that inequality leads to differences in behavior. First-movers send more of their endowment and second-movers return more when there is inequality. However, we do not find support for the hypothesis that the cause of the inequality matters. Behavior after the occurrence of a random shock is not significantly different from the behavior when the inequality exists from the outset. Our results highlight that we have to be cautious when interpreting the effects on trust and trustworthiness of negative random shocks that occur in the field (e.g., natural disasters). Our results suggest that these effects are largely driven by the inequality caused by the shock and not by any of the additional characteristics of the shock like saliency or uncertainty.
    Date: 2020–06–18
  16. 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
  17. By: Caeyers, Bet; Fafchamps, Marcel
    Abstract: We examine a largely unexplored source of downward bias in peer effect estimation, namely, exclusion bias. We derive formulas for the magnitude of the bias in tests of random peer assignment, and for the combined reflection and exclusion bias in peer effect estimation. We show how to consistently test random peer assignment and how to estimate and conduct consistent inference on peer effects without instruments. The method corrects for the presence of reflection and exclusion bias but imposes restrictions on correlated effects. It allows the joint estimation of endogenous and exogenous peer effects in situations where instruments are not available and cannot be constructed from the network matrix. We estimate endogenous and exogenous peer effects in two datasets where instrumental approaches fail because peer assignment is to mutually exclusive groups of identical size. We find significant evidence of positive peer effects in one, negative peer effects in the other. In both cases, ignoring exclusion bias would have led to incorrect inference. We also demonstrate how the same approach applies to autoregressive models.
    Keywords: Autoregressive Models; Exclusion bias; Linear-in-means; peer effects; Random peer assignment; Reflection bias; Social interactions
    JEL: C32
    Date: 2020–02

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