nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2020‒10‒19
ten papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. The Legacy of the Slave Trade: Towards Identifying the Causal Impact of Mistrust in Medicine on Demand for Vaccination in Sub-Saharan Africa By Athias, Laure; Macina, Moudo
  2. The Ties That Bind Us: Social Networks and Productivity in the Factory By Afridi, Farzana; Dhillon, Amrita; Sharma, Swati
  3. Wind of Change? Cultural Determinants of Maternal Labor Supply By Barbara Boelmann; Anna Raute; Uta Schönberg
  4. War, Socialism and the Rise of Fascism: An Empirical Exploration By Daron Acemoglu; Giuseppe De Feo; Giacomo De Luca; Gianluca Russo
  5. Close encounters on the verge of a pandemic: the role of social contacts on the spread and mortality of COVID-19 By Cristini, Annalisa; Trivin, Pedro
  6. Professional networking by gender: A case study on LinkedIn contacts for a professor in science By Olsson, Anders Lindh; Snellman, Markus; Deppert, Knut; Lövkrona, Inger
  7. Do workers discriminate against their out-group employers? Evidence from the gig economy By Asad, Sher Afghan; Banerjee, Ritwik; Bhattacharya, Joydeep
  8. Expectations, Networks, and Conventions By Benjamin Golub; Stephen Morris
  9. Predictors of Social Distancing and Mask-Wearing Behavior: Panel Survey in Seven U.S. States By Plamen Nikolov; Andreas Pape; Ozlem Tonguc; Charlotte Williams
  10. Social Media and the News: Content Bundling and news Quality By de Cornière, Alexandre; Sarvary, Miklos

  1. By: Athias, Laure; Macina, Moudo
    Abstract: There is a large body of anecdotal evidence from sub-Saharan Africa of widespread medical distrust leading to health program failures. In this paper, to isolate an exogenous variation in trust in medicine to explain contemporary health demand in sub-Saharan Africa, we rely on a widespread historical shock: the slave trade. We combine \possessivecite{NunnWantchekon2011} historical data on the slave trade by ethnic group with individual-level data, geolocated at the district level, from the 2010-2014 Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) to examine the reduced-form relationship between ancestors’ exposure to the slave trade and children vaccination status against measles. Exploiting variations both within countries and districts, we find that children from mothers whose ancestors were exposed to the slave trade are less likely to be vaccinated. The size of the effect offsets or even dominates the ones obtained for standard determinants of health demand, such as education or revenue. Evidence from a variety of identification strategies shows that the slave trade affects demand for vaccination only through trust in medicine. We then provide explanations for the persistent effect of the slave trade. Consistent with the economic approach, we identify religious affiliations and matrilineal lineage systems as important cultural transmission mechanisms. Consistent with the evolutionary anthropology approach, we point to the similarity of the environment across generations due to colonial and contemporaneous abusive medical treatments to explain persistence of optimal mistrusting behavior.
    Keywords: Trust, Medicine, Slave trade, Health, Culture, Cultural transmission
    JEL: D12 I12 I18 J15 N57 Z13
    Date: 2020–09–16
  2. By: Afridi, Farzana (Indian Statistical Institute); Dhillon, Amrita (King's College London); Sharma, Swati (Indian Statistical Institute)
    Abstract: We use high frequency worker level productivity data from garment manufacturing units in India to study the effects of caste-based social networks on individual and group productivity when workers are complements in the production function but wages are paid at the individual level. Using exogenous variation in production line composition for almost 35,000 worker-days, we find that a 1 percentage point increase in the share of own caste workers in the line increases daily individual productivity by about 10 percentage points. The lowest performing worker increases her effort by more than 15 percentage points when the production line has a more homogeneous caste composition. Production externalities that impose financial costs due to worker's poor performance on co-workers within her social network can explain our findings. Our results suggest that even in the absence of explicit group-based financial incentives, social networks can be leveraged to improve both worker and group productivity.
    Keywords: caste, social networks, labor productivity, assembly lines, India
    JEL: Y40 Z13 J15 J24
    Date: 2020–09
  3. By: Barbara Boelmann (Department of Economics, University College London, CReAM and University of Cologne); Anna Raute (Queen Mary University of London, CReAM and CEPR); Uta Schönberg (University College London, CReAM and IAB)
    Abstract: Does the culture in which a woman grows up influence her labor market decisions once she has had a child? To what extent might the culture of her present social environment shape maternal labor supply? To address these questions, we exploit the setting of German reunification. A state socialist country, East Germany strongly encouraged mothers to participate in the labor market full-time, whereas West Germany propagated a more traditional male breadwinner-model. After reunification, these two cultures were suddenly thrown together, with consequent increased social interactions between East and West Germans through migration and commuting. A comparison of East and West German mothers on both sides of the former Inner German border within the same commuting zone shows that culture matters. Indeed, East German mothers return to work more quickly and for longer hours than West German mothers even two decades after reunification. Second, in exploiting migration across this old border, we document a strong asymmetry in the persistence of the culture in which women were raised. Whereas East German female migrants return to work earlier and work longer hours than their West German colleagues even after long exposure to the more traditional West German culture, West German migrants adjust their post-birth labor supply behavior nearly entirely to that of their East German colleagues. Finally, taking advantage of differential inflows of East German migrants across West German firms in the aftermath of reunification, we show that even a partial exposure to East German colleagues induces “native†West German mothers to accelerate their return to work after childbirth, suggesting that migration might be a catalyst for cultural change.
    Keywords: cultural transmission, social norms, maternal labor force participation, German reunification
    JEL: J1 J2 Z1
    Date: 2020–10
  4. By: Daron Acemoglu; Giuseppe De Feo; Giacomo De Luca; Gianluca Russo
    Abstract: The recent ascent of right-wing populist movements in many countries has rekindled interest in understanding the causes of the rise of Fascism in inter-war years. In this paper, we argue that there was a strong link between the surge of support for the Socialist Party after World War I (WWI) and the subsequent emergence of Fascism in Italy. We first develop a source of variation in Socialist support across Italian municipalities in the 1919 election based on war casualties from the area. We show that these casualties are unrelated to a battery of political, economic and social variables before the war and had a major impact on Socialist support (partly because the Socialists were the main anti-war political movement). Our main result is that this boost to Socialist support (that is “exogenous” to the prior political leaning of the municipality) led to greater local Fascist activity as measured by local party branches and Fascist political violence (squadrismo), and to significantly larger vote share of the Fascist Party in the 1924 election. We document that the increase in the vote share of the Fascist Party was not at the expense of the Socialist Party and instead came from right-wing parties, thus supporting our interpretation that center-right and right-wing voters coalesced around the Fascist Party because of the “red scare”. We also show that the veterans did not consistently support the Fascist Party and there is no evidence for greater nationalist sentiment in areas with more casualties. We provide evidence that landowner associations and greater presence of local elites played an important role in the rise of Fascism. Finally, we find greater likelihood of Jewish deportations in 1943-45 and lower vote share for Christian Democrats after World War II in areas with greater early Fascist activity.
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2020–09
  5. By: Cristini, Annalisa; Trivin, Pedro
    Abstract: Close proximity interactions facilitate the spread of COVID-19, which is predominantly transmitted via droplets. In this paper we study to what extend the transmission and mortality of the virus are related to social habits regarding physical interactions. Using regional data for a maximum of 8 European countries we find that a standard deviation increase in the percentage of people having daily face-to-face contacts raises COVID-19 cases by 10% but does not affect the number of fatalities. Analyzing the effects by type of contact, we observe that only the interactions with friends are relevant for the transmission and mortality of the virus. Additionally, our results show that this impact is reinforced by the presence of inter-generational families in the region. Finally, we find evidence of a negative relationship between civic habits and the growth rate of contagion between April and June 2020.
    Keywords: COVID-19; Social contacts; Virus contagion.
    JEL: I1 I12 I18
    Date: 2020–09–22
  6. By: Olsson, Anders Lindh; Snellman, Markus; Deppert, Knut; Lövkrona, Inger
    Abstract: In this study, we used data from LinkedIn networks to gain insight in how different groups network in terms of network size and gender composition among men and women. We have gathered categorical data from 751 LinkedIn networks to quantitatively analyze networking tendencies and network gender compositions in the categories gender, age, sector of work, fi?eld of work, level of education and area of residence. We have also determined networking "savviness" as a quantitative measure of social networking for comparing groups in the categories. The observations made regarding networking behavior among female and male LinkedIn users include that women on average had more female contacts than men in all categories. Female networks working in a non-technical fi?eld were found to have the most gender equal networks of all groups with an average of 42.5% female contacts. The data show further, that men and women in STEM and the private sector were savvier networkers and that users with a PhD had fewer female contacts on average than those without a PhD. Further, Scandinavian networks had signi?cantly more female contacts in their networks than networks from other European countries and North America had.
    Date: 2020–10–02
  7. By: Asad, Sher Afghan; Banerjee, Ritwik; Bhattacharya, Joydeep
    Abstract: We study possible worker-to-employer discrimination manifested via social preferences in an online labor market. Specifically, we ask, do workers exhibit positive social preferences for an out-race employer relative to an otherwise-identical, own-race one? We run a well-powered, model-based experiment wherein we recruit 6,000 workers from Amazon’s M-Turk platform for a real-effort task and randomly (and unobtrusively) reveal to them the racial identity of their non-fictitious employer. Strikingly, we find strong evidence of race-based altruism – white workers, even when they do not benefit personally, work relatively harder to generate more income for black employers. Self-declared white Republicans and Independents exhibit significantly more altruism relative to Democrats. Notably, the altruism does not seem to be driven by race-specific beliefs about the income status of the employers. Our results suggest the possibility that pro-social behavior of whites toward blacks, atypical in traditional labor markets, may emerge in the gig economy where associative (dis)taste is naturally muted due to limited social contact.
    Date: 2020–02–23
  8. By: Benjamin Golub; Stephen Morris
    Abstract: In coordination games and speculative over-the-counter financial markets, solutions depend on higher-order average expectations: agents' expectations about what counterparties, on average, expect their counterparties to think, etc. We offer a unified analysis of these objects and their limits, for general information structures, priors, and networks of counterparty relationships. Our key device is an interaction structure combining the network and agents' beliefs, which we analyze using Markov methods. This device allows us to nest classical beauty contests and network games within one model and unify their results. Two applications illustrate the techniques: The first characterizes when slight optimism about counterparties' average expectations leads to contagion of optimism and extreme asset prices. The second describes the tyranny of the least-informed: agents coordinating on the prior expectations of the one with the worst private information, despite all having nearly common certainty, based on precise private signals, of the ex post optimal action.
    Date: 2020–09
  9. By: Plamen Nikolov; Andreas Pape; Ozlem Tonguc; Charlotte Williams
    Abstract: This paper presents preliminary summary results from a longitudinal study of participants in seven U.S. states during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to standard socio-economic characteristics, we collect data on various economic preference parameters: time, risk, and social preferences, and risk perception biases. We pay special attention to predictors that are both important drivers of social distancing and are potentially malleable and susceptible to policy levers. We note three important findings: (1) demographic characteristics exert the largest influence on social distancing measures and mask-wearing, (2) we show that individual risk perception and cognitive biases exert a critical role in influencing the decision to adopt social distancing measures, (3) we identify important demographic groups that are most susceptible to changing their social distancing behaviors. These findings can help inform the design of policy interventions regarding targeting specific demographic groups, which can help reduce the transmission speed of the COVID-19 virus.
    Date: 2020–09
  10. By: de Cornière, Alexandre; Sarvary, Miklos
    Abstract: The growing influence of internet platforms acting as content aggregators is one of the most important challenges facing the media industry. We develop a simple model to understand the impact of third-party content bundling by a social platform that has a monopoly on showing user-generated content to consumers. In our model consumers can access news either directly through a newspaper’s website, or indirectly through a platform, which also offers social content. We show that content bundling, when unilaterally implemented by the platform, tends to harm publishers and to increase the dispersion of quality across outlets. News quality is more likely to increase with content bundling when the cost of providing quality is low, and when competition among publishers is strong. When content bundling follows an agreement between the platform and publisher, its effects are reversed, as publishers’ profits go up while quality dispersion goes down. In a setup with heterogeneous consumers, we also show that the platform’s ability to personalize the mix of content it shows to users induces publishers to invest more in the quality of their content.
    Date: 2020–10–02

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