nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2020‒11‒30
ten papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Comrades in the Family? Soviet Communism and Informal Family Insurance By Joan Costa-i-Font; Anna Nicińska
  2. Social Institutions and Gender-Biased Outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa By Tendai Zawaira; Matthew W. Clance; Carolyn Chisadza
  3. Turning Opposition into Support to Immigration: The Role of Narratives By Cristina Cattaneo; Daniela Grieco
  4. What Determines the Enforcement of Newly Introduced Social Norms: Personality Traits or Economic Preferences? Evidence from the COVID-19 Crisis By Daniel Schunk; Valentin Wagner
  5. Mechanisms and emergent properties of social structure: the duality of actors and social circles By Vasques Filho, Demival
  6. The effect of group identity on hiring decisions with incomplete information By Fortuna Casoria; Ernesto Reuben; Christina Rott
  7. The Demand for Punishment to Promote Cooperation Among Like-Minded People By Christoph Buehren; Astrid Dannenberg
  8. The Role of Collaboration Networks for Innovation in Immigrant-Owned New Technology-Based Firms By Scandura, Alessandra; Bolzani, Daniela
  9. When are groups less moral than individuals? By Pol Campos-Mercade
  10. Does volunteering increase employment opportunities? An experimental approach By Alfonso-Costillo, Antonio; Morales-Sánchez, Rafael; López-Pintado, Dunia

  1. By: Joan Costa-i-Font; Anna Nicińska
    Abstract: We study the effect of exposure to communism (EC), a political-economic regime based on collectivist planning, on preferences for family supports, which we refer to as ‘informal family insurance’. We exploit both cross-country and cohort variation in EC in a large sample of Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC). Against the backdrop that ‘communism gives rise to the abolition of the family’, we find robust evidence that EC strengthens the preference for family insurance which coexists with a stronger preference for social insurance. We find a six per cent increase in preferences for care to older parents and a four per cent increase in preferences for support to pre-school children and financial support to adult children. These effects are explained by the erosion of both generalized trust and the lower confidence in public institutions, suggesting that (raising uncertainty and adversity during) communism increased the demand for all types of available insurance.
    Keywords: informal family insurance, family networks, social insurance, interpersonal trust, confidence in institutions, Soviet communism, Eastern Europe
    JEL: Z10 P30
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Tendai Zawaira (Department of Economics, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0002, South Africa); Matthew W. Clance (Department of Economics, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0002, South Africa); Carolyn Chisadza (Department of Economics, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0002, South Africa)
    Abstract: Using data on historical homelands of ethnicities from the Ethnographic Atlas (Murdock, 1959, 1967) and World Values Survey (WVS) data, we analyse how social institutions perpetuate social attitudes that legitimise gender inequality in the labour market, specifically on female labour force participation in sub- Saharan Africa. We find that patriarchal systems in general such as patrilineal kinship, patrilineal land inheritance and patrilocal residence upon marriage reduce female labour force participation, whilst matriarchal systems have the opposite effect. These results are partly influenced by unequal gender attitudes towards women and their work. The findings suggest that social institutions are an important element in understanding gender dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa because they have over time informed on gender identification and appropriate gender roles in most societies.
    Keywords: Gender, Africa, Institutions, Culture
    JEL: J16 O11
    Date: 2020–11
  3. By: Cristina Cattaneo (RFF-CMCC); Daniela Grieco (University of Milan)
    Abstract: The way we collectively discuss migration shapes citizens’ perceptions of migrants and their influence on our society. This paper investigates whether a narrative about the positive impact of immigrants on the hosting economy affects natives’ behaviour towards migrants. To shed light on the underlying mechanism, we present a simple theoretical framework that models the relationship between beliefs, attitude and behaviour and identifies the sequential channels through which a narrative might be useful in changing attitude and behaviour. We test its predictions through an online survey experiment, where we deliver UK natives a favourable narrative about migrants. Treated subjects revise their beliefs about migrants and exhibit significantly more positive self-reported attitudes and more pro-migrant behaviour. Moreover, they update beliefs in a way that gives support to the existence of confirmation bias.
    Keywords: Immigration, Survey experiment, Narrative, Attitudes, Beliefs
    JEL: C90 D83 F22 J15
    Date: 2020–11
  4. By: Daniel Schunk (Johannes Gutenberg University); Valentin Wagner (Johannes Gutenberg University)
    Abstract: Social norms govern human behavior and usually change slowly over time. While individuals’ willingness to sanction others is decisive for the enforcement of social norms and thus social stability, little is known about individual sanctioning behavior related to newly introduced social norms. During the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have used various tools to rapidly and actively introduce the new norm of wearing a face mask; this offers a unique setting to study the determinants of individuals’ willingness to enforce a cooperation norm. In a nationwide online survey in Germany, we find that higher levels of conscientiousness and neuroticism, but none of the economic preferences (time and risk), are significantly and robustly associated with higher norm enforcement behavior. Furthermore, there is a strong relationship behavior between supervisors’ and their subordinates’ norm enforcement, and we observe that females sanction less harshly than men. Our results shed light on the origins of individual compliance with and enforcement of newly introduced public policy measures that are meant to increase solidarity via the explicit shaping of new cooperation norms.
    Keywords: Social norm enforcement, personality traits, risk and time preferences, COVID-19
    JEL: D81 D90 H12 H40
    Date: 2020–11–16
  5. By: Vasques Filho, Demival
    Abstract: I propose a theory of social structure that challenges the widely accepted role of preferential attachment and triadic closure as primary mechanisms of network formation. For this, I build upon Feld's concept of social circles, Breiger’s concept of the duality of actors and groups, and Hinde’s concept of interactions and relationships. The theory emphasizes that ties between actors arise and evolve according to social circles and social situations in which they participate, a notion straightforwardly modeled through two-mode and projected networks. Using recent results aided by analyses of empirical and artificial networks, I argue that structural properties such as tie strength, heterogeneity of popularity and strength among actors, clustering, community formation, and segregation emerge from homophily, jointly with overlap and social activity—mechanisms introduced in this study. The mechanisms form the two-mode network, and these structural properties naturally arise in the one-mode projection. The results show that social circle and social situation size distributions modulate network structures by interweaving with social activity distributions, and that overlap increases segregation from a network viewpoint. This theory’s implications are broad, affecting several social processes ranging from social cohesion, tolerance, and child development to the spread of infectious diseases.
    Date: 2020–11–12
  6. By: Fortuna Casoria (Univ Lyon, CNRS, GATE UMR 5824, F-69130 Ecully, France); Ernesto Reuben (New York University Abu Dhabi, Center for Behavioral Institutional Design; Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research); Christina Rott (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 1081HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
    Abstract: We investigate the effects of group identity on hiring decisions with adverse selection problems. We run a laboratory experiment in which employers cannot observe a worker's ability nor verify the veracity of the ability the worker claims to have. We evaluate whether sharing an identity results in employers discriminating in favor of ingroup workers, and whether it helps workers and employers overcome the adverse selection problem. We induce identities using the minimal group paradigm and study two settings: one where workers cannot change their identity and one where they can. Although sharing a common identity does not make the worker's claims more honest, employers strongly discriminate in favor of ingroup workers when identities are fixed. Discrimination cannot be explained by employers' beliefs and hence seems to be taste-based. When possible, few workers change their identity. However, the mere possibility of changing identities erodes the employers' trust towards ingroup workers and eliminates discrimination.
    Keywords: Labor, Discrimination, Identity, Economics: Game Theory and Bargaining Theory, Hiring
    JEL: C9 D82 J71 M51
    Date: 2020
  7. By: Christoph Buehren (Clausthal University of Technology); Astrid Dannenberg (University of Kassel)
    Abstract: We use an experiment to test the hypothesis that groups consisting of like-minded cooperators are able to cooperate irrespective of punishment and therefore have a lower demand for a costly punishment institution than groups of like-minded free riders, who are unable to cooperate without punishment. We also predict that the difference in the demand for punishment is particularly large when members know about the composition of their group. The experimental results confirm these hypotheses. However, the information about the composition of the group turns out to be even more important than we expected. It helps cooperative groups to avoid wasting resources for an unneeded punishment institution. In uncooperative groups, it helps members to recognize the need for punishment early on and not to follow an uncooperative path that produces a persistently competitive attitude. These findings highlight the role of group composition and information for institution formation and that lessons learned by one group cannot be readily transferred to other groups.
    JEL: C91 H41 D23 C72
    Date: 2020
  8. By: Scandura, Alessandra; Bolzani, Daniela (University of Turin)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the importance of the network of collaborations with other firms, research institutions, and business associations as key drivers of innovation, providing a comparison between immigrant-owned firms and non-immigrant-owned firms. We hypothesise that the network of collaboration is more important for innovative activities of immigrant entrepreneurs than for natives, due to their migrant condition, and that immigrant entrepreneurs’ acculturation to the host country culture moderates the influence of such network. We test our hypotheses on a unique matched-pair sample of immigrant and native domestic entrepreneurs active in high-tech mainstream (non-ethnic) markets. Our results show that universities and research institutions along with business associations are more important for immigrant-owned companies; we further show that immigrant entrepreneurs’ acculturation to the host country culture acts as a substitute for interactions with business associations. These findings are highly relevant for the academic and policy discourses on the link between immigrant entrepreneurship and innovation in developed countries.
    Date: 2020–10
  9. By: Pol Campos-Mercade (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)
    Abstract: People are less likely to make moral decisions when they are in groups. I study when this phenomenon makes groups less likely to produce a morally desirable outcome than one individual alone. I formulate and test a model in which a moral outcome occurs if at least one individual makes a costly decision. Using a lab experiment and data from field experiments on the bystander effect, I show that if most individuals are moral, the moral outcome is more likely to be produced by one individual, whereas if most individuals are immoral, it is more likely to be produced by a group. This rule is not only useful for reconciling previous mixed evidence on moral decisions in groups, but may also be applied to better design organizations and institutions.
    Keywords: moral behavior, group size, bystander effect, social preferences
    JEL: C92 D64 D90
    Date: 2020–11–18
  10. By: Alfonso-Costillo, Antonio; Morales-Sánchez, Rafael; López-Pintado, Dunia
    Abstract: We study the benefits of doing volunteer work when seeking employment opportunities. We do so by sending 2000 fictitious curricula to a large online platform of job offers in the United States. Half of these curricula are randomly assigned volunteer activities. We find that people who do volunteer work receive 45 percent more callbacks for interviews. The volunteering premium is not uniform across economic sectors. In retailing and real estate, it is significant, whereas in the other sectors we have studied (animal service, technology and automobile) it is not.
    Keywords: job market, volunteering, field experiment.
    JEL: C93 J64 J71
    Date: 2020–11

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