nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2021‒02‒22
ten papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Learning about Farming: Innovation and Social Networks in a Resettled Community in Brazil By Comola, Margherita; Inguaggiato, Carla; Mendola, Mariapia
  2. Generalised Trust and Relation Centrism for Corruption: Evidence from Low- and Middle-Income Countries. By Tolu Olarewaju; Jagannadha Pawan Tamvada; Sharin McDowall
  3. Bitter Sugar: Slavery and the Black Family By Graziella Bertocchi; Arcangelo Dimico
  4. Learning from Shared News: When Abundant Information Leads to Belief Polarization By Renee Bowen; Danil Dmitriev; Simone Galperti
  5. Persecution and Escape: Professional Networks and High-Skilled Emigration from Nazi Germany By Becker, Sascha O.; Lindenthal, Volker; Mukand, Sharun; Waldinger, Fabian
  6. Stay-at-Home Orders, Social Distancing and Trust By Brodeur, Abel; Grigoryeva, Idaliya; Kattan, Lamis
  7. The dynamics of cooperation, power, and inequality in a group-structured society By Tverskoi, Denis; Senthilnathan, Athmanathan; Gavrilets, Sergey
  8. The Expression of Right-Wing Populism in the Netherlands across Facebook Posts By Fischer, Agneta; Brands, Charlotte; Abadi, David
  9. Pro-environmental attitude and behaviours: an investigation on the role of pro-sociality By Caterina Giannetti; Pietro Guarnieri; Tommaso Luzzati
  10. On Human Capital and Team Stability By Pierre-Andr\'e Chiappori; Alfred Galichon; Bernard Salani\'e

  1. By: Comola, Margherita (Paris School of Economics); Inguaggiato, Carla (University of Bern); Mendola, Mariapia (University of Milan Bicocca)
    Abstract: We study the role of social learning in the diffusion of cash crops in a resettled village economy in northeastern Brazil. We combine detailed geo-coded data on farming plots with dyadic data on social ties among settlers, and we leverage natural exogenous variation in network formation induced by the land occupation movement and the agrarian reform. By using longitudinal data on farming decisions over 15 years we find consistent evidence of significant peer effects in the decision to farm new cash fruits (pineapple and passion fruit). Our results suggest that social diffusion is heterogeneous along observed plot and crop characteristics, i.e. farmers growing water-sensitive crop are more likely to respond to the actions of peers with similar water access conditions.
    Keywords: technology adoption, agrarian reform, social networks, peer effects, Brazil
    JEL: C45 D85 J15 O33 Q15
    Date: 2021–02
  2. By: Tolu Olarewaju (Staffordshire University); Jagannadha Pawan Tamvada (University of Southampton); Sharin McDowall (University of Birmingham)
    Abstract: We investigate the role of generalised trust and relation centrism for corruption as perceived by firms. The empirical analysis on 16,785 firms from 20 lower- and middle- income countries suggests that higher levels of friend centrism in society has a significantly negative relationship with corruption, while higher levels of generalised trust and family centrism have a significantly positive relationship with it. Overall, the empirical results demonstrate that corruption thrives in the presence of stronger family ties and more generalised trust in lower- and middle-income countries but is less of an obstacle in the presence of medium friend ties.
    Keywords: Trust, Relation Centrism, Corruption
    Date: 2021–02
  3. By: Graziella Bertocchi; Arcangelo Dimico
    Abstract: We empirically assess the effect of historical slavery on the African American family structure. Our hypothesis is that female single headship among blacks is more likely to emerge in association not with slavery per se, but with slavery in sugar plantations, since the extreme demographic and social conditions prevailing in the latter have persistently affected family formation patterns. By exploiting the exogenous variation in sugar suitability, we establish the following. In 1850, sugar suitability is indeed associated with extreme demographic outcomes within the slave population. Over the period 1880-1940, higher sugar suitability determines a higher likelihood of single female headship. The effect is driven by blacks and starts fading in 1920 in connection with the Great Migration. OLS estimates are complemented with a matching estimator and a fuzzy RDD. Over a linked sample between 1880 and 1930, we identify an even stronger intergenerational legacy of sugar planting for migrants. By 1990, the effect of sugar is replaced by that of slavery and the black share, consistent with the spread of its influence through migration and intermarriage, and black incarceration emerges as a powerful mediator. By matching slaves’ ethnic origins with ethnographic data we rule out any influence of African cultural traditions
    Keywords: Black family, slavery, sugar, migration, culture
    JEL: J12 J47 N30 O13 Z10
    Date: 2020–05
  4. By: Renee Bowen; Danil Dmitriev; Simone Galperti
    Abstract: We study learning via shared news. Each period agents receive the same quantity and quality of first-hand information and can share it with friends. Some friends (possibly few) share selectively, generating heterogeneous news diets across agents akin to echo chambers. Agents are aware of selective sharing and update beliefs by Bayes’ rule. Contrary to standard learning results, we show that beliefs can diverge in this environment leading to polarization. This requires that (i) agents hold misperceptions (even minor) about friends' sharing and (ii) information quality is sufficiently low. Polarization can worsen when agents' social connections expand. When the quantity of first-hand information becomes large, agents can hold opposite extreme beliefs resulting in severe polarization. Our results hold without media bias or fake news, so eliminating these is not sufficient to reduce polarization. When fake news is included, we show that it can lead to polarization but only through misperceived selective sharing. News aggregators can curb polarization caused by shared news.
    JEL: D82 D83 D90
    Date: 2021–02
  5. By: Becker, Sascha O. (Monash University); Lindenthal, Volker (University of Munich); Mukand, Sharun (University of Warwick); Waldinger, Fabian (University of Munich)
    Abstract: We study the role of professional networks in facilitating the escape of persecuted academics from Nazi Germany. From 1933, the Nazi regime started to dismiss academics of Jewish origin from their positions. The timing of dismissals created individual-level exogenous variation in the timing of emigration from Nazi Germany, allowing us to estimate the causal effect of networks for emigration decisions. Academics with ties to more colleagues who had emigrated in 1933 or 1934 (early émigrés) were more likely to emigrate. The early émigrés functioned as "bridging nodes" that helped other academics cross over to their destination. Furthermore, we provide some of the first empirical evidence of decay in social ties over time. The strength of ties also decays across space, even within cities. Finally, for high-skilled migrants, professional networks are more important than community networks.
    Keywords: Nazi Germany, professional networks, Antisemitism
    JEL: I20 I23 I28 J15 J24 N34
    Date: 2021–02
  6. By: Brodeur, Abel; Grigoryeva, Idaliya; Kattan, Lamis
    Abstract: A better understanding of community response to government decisions is crucial for policy makers and health officials during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this study, we document the determinants of implementation and compliance with stay-at-home orders in the U.S., focusing on trust and social capital. Using cell phone data measuring changes in non-essential visitation and average distance traveled, we find that high-trust counties decrease their mobility significantly more than low-trust counties post stay-at-home order, with larger effects for more stringent orders. We also provide evidence that the estimated effect on post-order compliance is especially large for confidence in the press and governmental institutions, and relatively smaller for confidence in medicine and in science.
    Keywords: COVID-19,stay-at-home orders,social distancing,trust
    JEL: H12 I12 I18
    Date: 2021
  7. By: Tverskoi, Denis; Senthilnathan, Athmanathan; Gavrilets, Sergey
    Abstract: Most human societies are characterized by the presence of groups which cooperate through joint actions but also compete for resources and power. The processes of within- and between- group cooperation and competition have shaped human history over the last several millennia. To deepen our understanding of the underlying social dynamics, we model a society subdivided into groups with constant sizes and dynamically changing powers. Both individuals within groups and groups themselves participate in collective actions. The groups are also engaged in political contests over power which determines how resources are distributed. Using analytical approximations and agent-based simulations, we show that the model exhibits rich behavior characterized by multiple stable equilibria and, under some conditions, non-equilibrium dynamics. The strength of democratic institutions plays a key role: increasing it promotes cooperation, reduces variation in power, and mitigates inequality among groups. We show that increasing potential benefits of between-group cooperation promotes it only in societies with strong democratic institutions. We show that small groups are successful in competition if the jointly-produced goods are rivalrous and the potential benefit of cooperation is small. Otherwise large groups dominate. Overall our model contributes towards a better understanding of the causes of variation between societies in terms of the economic and political inequality within them.
    Date: 2021–02–08
  8. By: Fischer, Agneta; Brands, Charlotte; Abadi, David (University of Amsterdam)
    Abstract: When it comes to political communication on social media, Facebook has arisen as one of the most important platforms. Recent research on populist discourses provides evidence for populist ideology fragments emerging across Facebook posts. Moreover, the level of populist language styles and the adoption of typical populist rhetoric appears to be ‘endemic' across political actors across the whole political spectrum, even among non-populist ones. In total, 51 posts from Geert Wilders were analyzed before and 71 in the period after the 2019 Dutch elections (N = 122). This study tackles the use of the founding elements of populist communication strategies: references to the people, references to the elites, and references to the others. For a populist leader, Wilders’ Facebook posts do not contain many references to the people. Instead, he focuses on the elites (e.g., the EU) and on the others (e.g., Muslims or asylum seekers). The clearest difference between the pre- and post-election period seems to be that Wilders gradually changes his populist communication strategies from a focus on the elites, to a focus on the others. In doing so, he uses more references to religion and blaming the others. He also refers more to people within the country (asylum seekers and immigrants) in the post-election period (36,6%) than in the pre-election period (23,5%). His posts show clear examples of populist nativism, while he paints a picture of a battle between the Netherlands and the EU (the elites), Muslims or asylum seekers (the others).
    Date: 2019–11–20
  9. By: Caterina Giannetti; Pietro Guarnieri; Tommaso Luzzati
    Abstract: The multifaceted nature of contemporary environmental degradation requires an all-round policy approach, that cannot disregard the role of people’s behaviour. To study how to promote environmentally friendly actions, this paper investigates whether pro-sociality triggers pro-environmental behaviours (PEBs). To this aim, we consider not only the direct effect that pro-sociality might have on PEBs but also the indirect effect transmitted through environmental concerns. After outlining a theoretical framework based on the literature on PEBs, we use a Eurobarometer survey to conduct a causal mediation analysis. Our results show that pro social attitudes are actually important, having also a strong indirect effect on PEBs. Furthermore, they suggest that policies promoting pro-social attitudes may be more effective than those simply promoting pro environmental attitudes.
    Keywords: IV-mediation analysis, environmental citizenship, PEBs, EU citizens
    JEL: C36 Q57 Q58
    Date: 2021–02–01
  10. By: Pierre-Andr\'e Chiappori; Alfred Galichon; Bernard Salani\'e
    Abstract: In many economic contexts, agents from a same population team up to better exploit their human capital. In such contexts (often called "roommate matching problems"), stable matchings may fail to exist even when utility is transferable. We show that when each individual has a close substitute, a stable matching can be implemented with minimal policy intervention. Our results shed light on the stability of partnerships on the labor market. Moreover, they imply that the tools crafted in empirical studies of the marriage problem can easily be adapted to many roommate problems.
    Date: 2021–02

This nep-soc issue is ©2021 by Fabio Sabatini. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.