nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2021‒02‒08
thirteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. No inventor is an island: social connectedness and the geography of knowledge flows in the US By Andreas Diemer; Tanner Regan
  2. The Complementary Nature of Trust and Contract Enforcement By Björn Bartling; Ernst Fehr; David B. Huffmann; Nick Netzer; David B. Huffman
  3. A local community course that raises mental wellbeing and pro-sociality By Krekel, Christian; De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel; Fancourt, Daisy; Layard, Richard
  4. Friendship Networks and Political Opinions: A Natural Experiment among Future French Politicians By Algan, Yann; Dalvit, Nicolò; Do, Quoc-Anh; Le Chapelain, Alexis; Zenou, Yves
  5. Trust in Government and Compliance With Stay at Home Orders in American States By Oguzhan C. Dincer
  6. Should the government reward cooperation? Insights from an agent-based model of wealth redistribution By Frank Schweitzer; Luca Verginer; Giacomo Vaccario
  7. Intertemporal Altruism By Chopra, Felix; Eisenhauer, Philipp; Falk, Armin; Graeber, Thomas W
  8. Competing Social Identities and Intergroup Discrimination: Evidence from a Framed Field Experiment with High School Students in Vietnam By Tam Kiet Vuong; Ho Fai Chan; Benno Torgler
  9. Can Charitable Appeals Identify and Exploit Belief Heterogeneity? By Michalis Drouvelis; Benjamin M. Marx
  10. Social Distancing During a Pandemic: The Role of Friends By Michael Bailey; Drew M. Johnston; Martin Koenen; Theresa Kuchler; Dominic Russel; Johannes Stroebel
  11. Do you want to migrate to the United States? Migration intentions and Cultural Traits in Latin America By Riccardo Turati
  12. The impact of incorrect social information on collective wisdom in human groups By Bertrand Jayles; Ramon Escobedo; Stéphane Cezera; Adrien Blanchet; Tatsuya Kameda; Clément Sire; Guy Théraulaz
  13. What Makes a Tax Evader? By Marcelo L. Bergolo; Martin Leites; Ricardo Perez-Truglia; Matias Strehl

  1. By: Andreas Diemer; Tanner Regan
    Abstract: Do informal social ties connecting inventors across distant places promote knowledge flows between them? To measure informal ties, we use a new and direct index of social connectedness of regions based on aggregate Facebook friendships. We use a well-established identification strategy that relies on matching inventor citations with citations from examiners. Moreover, we isolate the specific effect of informal connections, above and beyond formal professional ties (co-inventor networks) and geographic proximity. We identify a significant and robust effect of informal ties on patent citation. Further, we find that the effect of geographic proximity on knowledge flows is entirely explained by informal social ties and professional networks. We also show that the effect of informal social ties on knowledge flows: has become increasingly important over the last two decades, is higher for older or `forgotten' patents, is more important for new entrepreneurs or `garage inventors', and is somewhat stronger across distant technology fields.
    Keywords: knowledge flows, diffusion, social connectedness, informal networks
    JEL: O33 R12 Z13
    Date: 2020–11
  2. By: Björn Bartling; Ernst Fehr; David B. Huffmann; Nick Netzer; David B. Huffman
    Abstract: Under weak contract enforcement the trading parties’ trust, defined as their belief in the other party’s trustworthiness, appears important for realizing gains from trade. In contrast, under strong contract enforcement beliefs about the other party’s trustworthiness appear less important, suggesting that trust and contract enforcement are substitutes. Here, we show, however, that trust and contract enforcement are complements. We demonstrate that in a weak contract enforcement environment trust has no effect on the gains from trade, but when we successively improve contract enforcement, larger effects of trust emerge. We also document that improvements in contract enforcement lead to no, or only small, increases in gains from trade under low initial trust, but generate high increases in gains from trade when initial trust is high. Thus, the effect of improvements in contract enforcement is trust-dependent, and the effect of increases in trust is dependent on the strength of contract enforcement. We identify three key ingredients underlying this complementarity: (1) heterogeneity in trading partners’ trustworthiness; (2) strength of contract enforcement affecting the ability to elicit reciprocal behavior from trustworthy types, and screen out untrustworthy types; (3) trust beliefs determining willingness to try such strategies.
    Keywords: trust, contract enforcement, complementarity, equilibrium selection, causal effect, screening, belief distortions, institutions
    JEL: C91 D02 D91 E02
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Krekel, Christian; De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel; Fancourt, Daisy; Layard, Richard
    Abstract: Although correlates of mental wellbeing have been extensively studied, relatively little is known about how to effectively raise mental wellbeing in local communities by means of intervention. We conduct a randomised controlled trial of the "Exploring What Matters" course, a scalable social-psychological intervention aimed at raising general adult population mental wellbeing and pro-sociality. The manualised course is run by non-expert volunteers in their local communities and to date has been conducted in more than 26 countries around the world. We find that it has strong, positive causal effects on participants' selfreported subjective wellbeing (life satisfaction increases by about 63% of a standard deviation) and prosociality (social trust increases by about 53% of a standard deviation) while reducing measures of mental ill health (PHQ-9 and GAD-7 decrease by about 50% and 42% of a standard deviation, respectively). Impacts seem to be sustained two months post-treatment. We complement self-reported outcomes with biomarkers collected through saliva samples, including cortisol and a range of cytokines involved in inflammatory response. These move consistently into the hypothesised direction but are noisy and do not reach statistical significance at conventional levels
    Keywords: international trade; export demand; import competition; productivity; allocative efficiency; misallocation
    JEL: C93 I12 I31
    Date: 2020–01
  4. By: Algan, Yann (Sciences Po, Paris); Dalvit, Nicolò (Sciences Po, Paris); Do, Quoc-Anh (Sciences Po, Paris); Le Chapelain, Alexis; Zenou, Yves (Monash University)
    Abstract: We study how social interaction and friendship shape students' political opinions in a natural experiment at Sciences Po, the cradle of top French politicians. We exploit arbitrary assignments of students into short-term integration groups before their scholar cursus, and use the pairwise indicator of same-group membership as instrumental variable for friendship. After six months, friendship causes a reduction of differences in opinions by one third of the standard deviation of opinion gap. The evidence is consistent with a homophily-enforced mechanism, by which friendship causes initially politically-similar students to join political associations together, which reinforces their political similarity, without exercising an effect on initially politically-dissimilar pairs. Friendship affects opinion gaps by reducing divergence, therefore polarization and extremism, without forcing individuals' views to converge. Network characteristics also matter to the friendship effect.
    Keywords: political opinion, polarization, friendship effect, social networks, homophily, extremism, learning, natural experiment
    JEL: C93 D72 Z13
    Date: 2020–12
  5. By: Oguzhan C. Dincer
    Abstract: Trust in government is particularly important in implementing public health policies especially during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This study investigates the effects of trust in government and compliance with stay at home orders using data from American states during the first wave of the pandemic. A system of four seemingly unrelated regression (SUR) equations covering four consecutive Saturdays starting with April 25 is estimated with maximum likelihood. The regression results indicate that people are more likely to comply with stay at home orders in more trusting states.
    Keywords: trust in government, Covid-19, social distancing
    JEL: I18 D70 D73
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Frank Schweitzer; Luca Verginer; Giacomo Vaccario
    Abstract: In our multi-agent model agents generate wealth from repeated interactions for which a prisoner's dilemma payoff matrix is assumed. Their gains are taxed by a government at a rate $\alpha$. The resulting budget is spent to cover administrative costs and to pay a bonus to cooperative agents, which can be identified correctly only with a probability $p$. Agents decide at each time step to choose either cooperation or defection based on different information. In the local scenario, they compare their potential gains from both strategies. In the global scenario, they compare the gains of the cooperative and defective subpopulations. We derive analytical expressions for the critical bonus needed to make cooperation as attractive as defection. We show that for the local scenario the government can establish only a medium level of cooperation, because the critical bonus increases with the level of cooperation. In the global scenario instead full cooperation can be achieved once the cold-start problem is solved, because the critical bonus decreases with the level of cooperation. This allows to lower the tax rate, while maintaining high cooperation.
    Date: 2021–01
  7. By: Chopra, Felix (University of Bonn); Eisenhauer, Philipp (University of Chicago); Falk, Armin (briq, University of Bonn); Graeber, Thomas W (Harvard Business School)
    Abstract: Standard consumption utility is linked in time to a consumption event, whereas the timing of prosocial utility flows is ambiguous. Prosocial utility may depend on the actual utility consequences for others – it is consequence-dated – or it may be related to the act of giving and is thus choice-dated. Even though most prosocial decisions involve intertemporal trade-offs, existing models of other-regarding preferences abstract from the time signature of utility flows, limiting their explanatory scope. Building on a canonical intertemporal choice framework, we characterize the behavioral implications of the time structure of prosocial utility. We conduct a high-stakes donation experiment that allows us to identify non-parametrically and calibrate structurally the different motives from their unique time profiles. We find that the universe of our choice data can only be explained by a combination of choice- and consequence-dated prosocial utility. Both motives are pervasive and negatively correlated at the individual level.
    Keywords: altruism, donation, intertemporal decision-making, time inconsistency
    JEL: C91 D12 D64 D90
    Date: 2021–01
  8. By: Tam Kiet Vuong; Ho Fai Chan; Benno Torgler
    Abstract: We conducted a framed field experiment to explore a situation where individuals have potentially competing social identities to understand how group identification and socialization affect in- group favoritism and out-group discrimination. The Dictator Game and the Trust Game were conducted in Vietnams Ho Chi Minh City on two groups of high school students with different backgrounds, i.e., French bilingual and monolingual (Vietnamese) students. We find strong evidence for the presence of these two phenomena: our micro-analysis of within- and between- school effects show that bilingual students exhibit higher discriminatory behavior toward non- bilinguals within the same school than toward other bilinguals from a different school, implying that group identity is a key factor in the explanation of intergroup cooperation and competition.
    Keywords: socialization; in-group favouritism; out-group discrimination; cooperation; trust; trustworthiness; fairness; altruism; risk preference
    JEL: C93 C70 D74
    Date: 2021–01
  9. By: Michalis Drouvelis; Benjamin M. Marx
    Abstract: Charitable fundraisers frequently announce giving by others, and research shows that this can increase donations. However, this mechanism may not put information about peers to the most efficient use if it is costly to inform individuals who are indifferent to peer actions or causes some individuals to give less. We investigate whether a simple mechanism without incentives can predict heterogeneity in charitable responses to peer decisions. We elicit beliefs about donations in a baseline solicitation, and in subsequent solicitations we randomly assign information about others’ donations. We find that elicited beliefs are often logically inconsistent and that many subjects fail to update beliefs when treated. However, elicited beliefs can predict heterogeneous treatment effects if individuals are engaged and the information is salient.
    Keywords: charitable, donation, norm, social preferences, peer effects, experiment
    JEL: D01 D64 A13
    Date: 2021
  10. By: Michael Bailey; Drew M. Johnston; Martin Koenen; Theresa Kuchler; Dominic Russel; Johannes Stroebel
    Abstract: We explore how social network exposure to COVID-19 cases shapes individuals' social distancing behavior during the early months of the ongoing pandemic. We work with de-identified data from Facebook to show that U.S. users whose friends live in areas with worse coronavirus outbreaks reduce their mobility more than otherwise similar users whose friends live in areas with smaller outbreaks. The effects are quantitatively large: a one standard deviation increase in friend-exposure to COVID-19 cases early in the pandemic results in a 1.2 percentage point increase in the probability that an individual stays home on a given day. As the pandemic progresses, changes in friend-exposure drive changes in social distancing behavior. Given the evolving nature and geography of the pandemic -- and hence friend-exposure -- these results rule out many alternative explanations for the observed relationships. We also analyze data on public posts and membership in groups advocating to "reopen" the economy to show that our findings can be explained by friend-exposure raising awareness about the risks of the disease and inducing individuals to participate in mitigating public health behavior.
    JEL: D83 D85 H0 I0
    Date: 2020–12
  11. By: Riccardo Turati (IRES/LIDAM, UCLouvain; Departament d'Economia Aplicada, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona)
    Abstract: This paper empirically investigates whether aspiring emigrants from nineteen Latin American countries to the United States hold a different set of cultural traits compared to stayers. Using Gallup World Poll data and proxy on individual pro social behaviors and political attitudes towards the president of the United States, we observe that aspiring migrants share more pro social behaviors and support more the U.S. political leader than stayers. We find that already existing migration network reduces cultural selection on social behaviors, which holds mainly among the young and less educated population, and in less developed countries. The paper shows that such cultural self-selection is unlikely to affect the distribution of cultural traits in the origin countries, avoiding potential negative effects for Latin American countries. If any, culturally selected immigrants should have a beneficial effect to the United States
    Keywords: International migration, migration intentions, self-selection, cultural traits, Latin America region
    Date: 2021–01
  12. By: Bertrand Jayles (Unknown); Ramon Escobedo (Unknown); Stéphane Cezera (TSE - Toulouse School of Economics - UT1 - Université Toulouse 1 Capitole - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement); Adrien Blanchet (IAST - Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse); Tatsuya Kameda (Unknown); Clément Sire (Unknown); Guy Théraulaz (IAST - Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse)
    Abstract: A major problem resulting from the massive use of social media is the potential spread of incorrect information. Yet, very few studies have investigated the impact of incorrect information on individual and collective decisions. We performed experiments in which participants had to estimate a series of quantities, before and after receiving social information. Unbeknownst to them, we controlled the degree of inaccuracy of the social information through ‘virtual influencers', who provided some incorrect information. We find that a large proportion of individuals only partially follow the social information, thus resisting incorrect information. Moreover, incorrect information can help improve group performance more than correct information, when going against a human underestimation bias. We then design a computational model whose predictions are in good agreement with the empirical data, and sheds light on the mechanisms underlying our results. Besides these main findings, we demonstrate that the dispersion of estimates varies a lot between quantities, and must thus be considered when normalizing and aggregating estimates of quantities that are very different in nature. Overall, our results suggest that incorrect information does not necessarily impair the collective wisdom of groups, and can even be used to dampen the negative effects of known cognitive biases.
    Keywords: human collective behaviour,incorrect information,social influence,computational modelling,wisdom of crowds
    Date: 2020–09
  13. By: Marcelo L. Bergolo; Martin Leites; Ricardo Perez-Truglia; Matias Strehl
    Abstract: Why do some individuals choose to evade taxes while others do not? One popular view is that some individuals cheat on their taxes because they are more dishonest, selfish, or perceive different social norms. There is, however, little direct evidence on this matter. In collaboration with the national tax agency in Uruguay, we address this question using a combination of surveys and administrative records. Leveraging a unique institutional setting, we measure individual-level evasion choices. We document significant variation in evasion decisions across individuals. For a subsample of 6,078 taxpayers, we use survey questions and incentivized laboratory games to measure traits such as honesty, selfishness, and perceived social norms. We find that these individual traits have some power to predict who evades taxes, but other factors, such as the environment, play a much bigger role.
    JEL: H24 H26 K42 Z1 Z13
    Date: 2020–12

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