nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2020‒07‒27
thirteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Institutions, Opportunism and Prosocial Behavior: Some Experimental Evidence By Antonio Cabrales; Irma Clots-Figueras; Roberto Hernán-González; Praveen Kujal
  2. Social Capital and the Spread of Covid-19: Insights from European Countries By Alina Kristin Bartscher; Sebastian Seitz; Sebastian Sieglich; Michaela Slotwinski; Nils Wehrhöfer; Sebastian Siegloch
  3. The Determinants and Effects of Social Connectedness in Europe By Michael Bailey; Theresa Kuchler; Dominic Russel; Bogdan State; Johannes Stroebel
  4. The Institutional Foundations of Religious Politics: Evidence from Indonesia By Samuel Bazzi; Gabriel Koehler-Derrick; Benjamin Marx
  5. Electoral Turnout and Social Capital By Jeremy Clark; Abel François; Olivier Gergaud
  6. Populism and Social Polarization in European Democracies By Victor Ginsburgh; Sergio Perelman; Pierre Pestieau
  7. Do Laws Shape Attitudes? Evidence from Same-Sex Relationship Recognition Policies in Europe By Aksoy, Cevat Giray; Carpenter, Christopher S.; de Haas, Ralph; Tran, Kevin
  8. Information and the Acquisition of Social Network Connections By Toman Barsbai; Victoria Licuanan; Andreas Steinmayr; Erwin Tiongson; Dean Yang
  9. Marriage, Fertility, and Cultural Integration in Italy By Bisin, Alberto; Tura, Giulia
  10. Betting on the Lord: Lotteries and Religiosity in Haiti By Auriol, Emmanuelle; Diego, Delissaint; fourati, maleke; Miquel-Florensa, Josepa; Seabright, Paul
  11. Riding Out of a Financial Crisis: The Joint Effect of Trust and Corporate Ownership By Mario Daniele Amore; Mircea Epure
  12. Upward-Flowing Intergenerational Transfers in Economic Development: The Role of Family Ties and their Cultural Transmission By Varvarigos, Dimitrios
  13. Global Evidence on the Determinants of Public Trust in Governments during the COVID-19 By Giray Gozgor

  1. By: Antonio Cabrales; Irma Clots-Figueras; Roberto Hernán-González; Praveen Kujal
    Abstract: Formal or informal institutions have long been adopted by societies to protect against opportunistic behavior. However, we know very little about how these institutions are chosen and their impact on behavior. We experimentally investigate the demand for different levels of institutions that provide low to high levels of insurance and its subsequent impact on prosocial behavior. We conduct a large-scale online experiment where we add the possibility of purchasing insurance to safeguard against low reciprocity to the standard trust game. We compare two different mechanisms, the private (purchase) and the social (voting) choice of institutions. Whether voted or purchased, we find that there is demand for institutions in low trustworthiness groups, while high trustworthiness groups always demand lower levels of institutions. Lower levels of institutions are demanded when those who can benefit from opportunistic behavior, i.e. low trustworthiness individuals, can also vote for them. Importantly, the presence of insurance crowds out civic spirit even when subjects can choose the no insurance option: trustworthiness when formal institutions are available is lower than in their absence.
    Keywords: institutions, trust, trustworthiness, voting, insurance
    JEL: C92 D02 D64
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Alina Kristin Bartscher; Sebastian Seitz; Sebastian Sieglich; Michaela Slotwinski; Nils Wehrhöfer; Sebastian Siegloch
    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
  3. By: Michael Bailey; Theresa Kuchler; Dominic Russel; Bogdan State; Johannes Stroebel
    Abstract: We use aggregated data from Facebook to study the structure of social networks across European regions. Social connectedness declines strongly in geographic distance and at country borders. Historical borders and unions — such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Czechoslovakia, and East/West Germany — shape present-day social connectedness over and above today’s political boundaries. All else equal, social connectedness is stronger between regions with residents of similar ages and education levels, as well as between those that share a language and religion. In contrast, region-pairs with dissimilar incomes tend to be more connected, likely due to increased migration from poorer to richer regions. We find more socially connected region-pairs to have more passenger train trips between them, even after controlling for distance and travel time. We also find that regions with a higher share of connections to other countries have higher rates of trust in the E.U. and lower rates of voting for anti-E.U. political parties.
    Keywords: social connectedness, Europe, homophily, border effects, migration
    JEL: D72 J61 O52 R23 Z13
    Date: 2020
  4. By: Samuel Bazzi (Boston University); Gabriel Koehler-Derrick (Harvard University); Benjamin Marx (Département d'économie)
    Abstract: Why do religious politics thrive in some societies but not others? This paper explores the institutional foundations of this process in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim democracy. We show that a major Islamic institution, the waqf, fostered the entrenchment of political Islam at a critical historical juncture. In the early 1960s, rural elites transferred large amounts of land into waqf —a type of inalienable charitable trust—to avoid expropriation by the government as part of a major land reform effort. Although the land reform was later undone, the waqf properties remained. We show that greater intensity of the planned reform led to more prevalent waqf land and Islamic institutions endowed as such, including religious schools, which are strongholds of the Islamist movement. We identify lasting effects of the reform on electoral support for Islamist parties, preferences for religious candidates, and the adoption of Islamic legal regulations (sharia). Overall, the land reform contributed to the resilience and eventual rise of political Islam by helping to spread religious institutions, thereby solidifying the alliance between local elites and Islamist groups. These findings shed new light on how religious institutions may shape politics in modern democracies.
    Keywords: Religion; Institutions; Land reform; Islam; Sharia Law
    JEL: D72 D74 P16 P26 Z12
    Date: 2020–05
  5. By: Jeremy Clark (University of Canterbury); Abel François; Olivier Gergaud
    Abstract: Although social capital is a useful and often used concept in political science to explain political behavior and electoral turnout, its effects are rarely tested because of scarcity of available data. It is hard to find a good measure of social capital not produced by a political process. Moreover, the concept suffers from an unstable definition that makes it difficult to operationalize. In line with a part of the previous literature, we propose a restricted definition of social capital based on its main origin, a person’s accumulated social interactions. This enables us to integrate social capital into the rational calculus of voting and state a clear prediction that higher social capital will raise electoral turnout. We test this prediction using data on New Zealand participation in the 2017 national election based on 2013 census characteristics at the finest aggregated level of “meshblock.” We measure social capital using a census measure of volunteering rates. Our results are clear and stable: there is a strong positive association between social capital and subsequent electoral turnout.
    Keywords: Electoral turnout, social capital, volunteering work, calculus of voting
    JEL: D42
    Date: 2020–07–01
  6. By: Victor Ginsburgh; Sergio Perelman; Pierre Pestieau
    Abstract: The objective of this paper is to explain populist attitudes that are prevailing in a number of European democracies. Populist attitudes expectedly lead to social protests and populist votes. We capture the populist wave by relying not on voting behavior but rather on values that are traditionally viewed as populist values, such as distrust of institutions and neighbors, rejection of migrations and strong preferences for law and order. Our study covers the period 2004 to 2018 and 25 European countries for which we match aggregated indicators of populist values and social polarization computed from ESS and SILC survey micro-data, respectively. We find that social polarization, along with other factors, can explain populist attitudes. We also observe that both populist attitudes and polarization vary across countries much more than over time, with the exception of authoritarian values which appear positively correlated with social polarization, particularly among baby-boomers and younger cohorts.
    Keywords: populism; polarization; social divide
    JEL: D63 I30
    Date: 2020–07
  7. By: Aksoy, Cevat Giray; Carpenter, Christopher S.; de Haas, Ralph; Tran, Kevin
    Abstract: Understanding whether laws shape or simply reflect citizens' attitudes is important but empirically difficult. We provide new evidence on this question by studying the relation between legal same-sex relationship recognition policies (SSRRPs) and attitudes toward sexual minorities in Europe. Using data from the European Social Surveys covering 2002-2016 and exploiting variation in the timing of SSRRPs across countries, we show that legal relationship recognition is associated with statistically significant improvements in attitudes toward sexual minorities. These effects are widespread across demographic groups but are consistently larger for more conservative groups in countries with less gender equality. Our results suggest that laws can exert a powerful influence in shaping societal attitudes.
    Keywords: LGB attitudes; Public Opinion; Same-sex relationship recognition policies
    JEL: K36 Z1
    Date: 2020–01
  8. By: Toman Barsbai; Victoria Licuanan; Andreas Steinmayr; Erwin Tiongson; Dean Yang
    Abstract: How do information interventions affect individual efforts to expand social networks? We study a randomized controlled trial of a program providing information on settling in the U.S. for new immigrants from the Philippines. Improved information leads new immigrants to acquire fewer new social network connections. Treated immigrants make 16-28 percent fewer new friends and acquaintances and are 65 percent less likely to receive support from organizations of fellow immigrants. The treatment has no effect on employment, wellbeing, or other outcomes. Consistent with a simple model, the treatment reduces social network links more in places likely to have lower costs of acquiring network links (those with more prior fellow immigrants). Information and social network links appear to be substitutes in this context: better-informed immigrants invest less in expanding their social networks upon arrival. Our results suggest that endogenous reductions in acquisition of social network connections can reduce the effectiveness of information interventions.
    JEL: D83 D85 F22
    Date: 2020–06
  9. By: Bisin, Alberto; Tura, Giulia
    Abstract: We study the cultural integration of immigrants, estimating a structural model of marital matching along ethnic dimensions, exploring in detail the role of fertility, and possibly divorce in the integration process. We exploit rich administrative demographic data on the universe of marriages formed in Italy, as well as birth and separation records from 1995 to 2012. We estimate strong preferences of ethnic minorities' towards socialization of children to their own identity, identifying marital selection and fertility choices as fundamental socialization mechanisms. The estimated cultural intolerance of Italians towards immigrant minorities is also substantial. Turning to long-run simulations, we nd that cultural intolerances, as well as fertility and homogamy rates, slow-down the cultural integration of some immigrant ethnic minorities, especially Latin America, East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Nonetheless, 75% of immigrants integrate into the majoritarian culture over the period of a generation. Interestingly, we show by counterfactual analysis that a lower cultural intolerance of Italians towards minorities would lead to slower cultural integration by allowing immigrants a more widespread use of their own language rather than Italian in heterogamous marriages. Finally, we quantitatively assess the effects of large future immigration inflows.
    Keywords: cultural transmission; integration; Intermarriage; Marital Matching
    JEL: D1 J12 J13 J15
    Date: 2019–12
  10. By: Auriol, Emmanuelle; Diego, Delissaint; fourati, maleke; Miquel-Florensa, Josepa; Seabright, Paul
    Abstract: We conducted an experimental study in Haiti testing for the relationship between religious belief and individual risk taking behavior. 774 subjects played lotteries in a standard neutral protocol and subsequently with reduced endowments but in the presence of religious images of Catholic, Protestant and Voodoo tradition. Subjects chose between paying to play a lottery with an image of their choice, and saving their money to play with no image. Those who chose the former are defined as image buyers and those who chose the latter as non-buyers. Image buyers, who tend to be less educated, more rural, and to exhibit greater religiosity, bet more than non-buyers in all games. In addition, in the presence of religious images all participants took more risk, and buyers took more risk when playing in the presence of their chosen images than when playing with other images. We develop a theoretical model calibrated with our experimental data to explore the channels through which religious images might affect risk-taking. Our results suggest that the presence of images tends to increase individuals' subjective probability of winning the lottery, and that subjects therefore believe in a god who intervenes actively in the world in response to their requests.
    Keywords: field experiment; religion; risk preferences
    JEL: C93 D81 Z12
    Date: 2019–12
  11. By: Mario Daniele Amore; Mircea Epure
    Abstract: We study how generalized trust shapes the ability of firms with different ownership forms to obtain trade financing and perform during a financial crisis. Exploiting geographic variations in trust across Italian regions and the occurrence of the 2008-09 financial crisis in a difference-indifferences setting, we show that generalized trust makes family firms less able to obtain trade financing during the crisis. This finding maps into performance results: trust alleviates the negative effect of a crisis for non-family firms, while it aggravates the negative effect for family firms. This latter result depends crucially on a firm’s corporate governance: trust does not harm family firms whose board is open to non-family directors. Collectively, our findings illustrate how culture interacts with corporate attributes in shaping a firm’s prospects.
    Keywords: trust, trade financing, Family firms, financial crisis, performance
    JEL: G32 G34 Z10
    Date: 2020–07
  12. By: Varvarigos, Dimitrios
    Abstract: I construct a model where upward-flowing income transfers, from adult children to their old parents, are driven by a culture of strong family ties. This evolves intergenerationally, through a process of cultural transmission. The two-way causal link between economic and cultural change can be a strong enough force to offset cultural substitution, thus generating path-dependent outcomes. These outcomes are consistent with empirical evidence showing that economic development is negatively related with upward-flowing intergenerational transfers, and with the strength of family ties. On the one hand, the economy may follow a convergence path towards a low level of economic development, where adherence to strong family ties is the dominant characteristic of a culturally homogeneous population, and where the overall flow of intergenerational transfers is substantial. On the other hand, the economy may follow a different path of convergence towards a relatively higher level of economic development, where the population is more diverse in terms of their attitudes on family ties, and where the overall flow of intergenerational transfers is lower by comparison.
    Keywords: Economic development; Intergenerational transfers; Family ties; Cultural Transmission
    JEL: D64 O1 O41 Z1
    Date: 2020–06–09
  13. By: Giray Gozgor
    Abstract: Using the Worldwide COVID-19 Attitudes and Beliefs dataset covering 108,918 respondents from 178 countries, the paper examines the determinants of public trust in governments during the COVID-19. It is found that older and healthy people trust more to their governments. Education is negatively related to trust in governments. The results are robust to consider different measures of trust in government as well as including various controls, such as precautionary behaviors, first-order beliefs, second-order beliefs, and the COVID-19 prevalence in the country. The findings are also valid for countries at different stages of economic development as well to varying levels of globalization, institutional quality, and freedom of the press.
    Keywords: the COVID-19 pandemic, trust in governments, global survey data, economic development, institutional quality, freedom of the press
    JEL: I18 D81 C31 C83
    Date: 2020

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