nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2021‒03‒01
eighteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. No Man is an Island - Trust, Trustworthiness, and Social Capital among Syrian Refugees in Germany By El-Bialy, Nora; Fraile Aranda, Elisa; Nicklisch, Andreas; Saleh, Lamis; Voigt, Stefan
  2. Civic Capital and Social Distancing during the COVID-19 Pandemic By John M. Barrios; Efraim Benmelech; Yael V. Hochberg; Paola Sapienza; Luigi Zingales
  3. Institutional Change and Institutional Persistence By Daron Acemoglu; Georgy Egorov; Konstantin Sonin
  4. The Social Side of Early Human Capital Formation: Using a Field Experiment to Estimate the Causal Impact of Neighborhoods By John A. List; Fatemeh Momeni; Yves Zenou
  5. Culture, Institutions & the Long Divergence By Alberto Bisin; Jared Rubin; Avner Seror; Thierry Verdier
  6. Lab-Sophistication: Does Repeated Participation in Laboratory Experiments Affect Pro-Social Behaviour? By Medda, Tiziana; Pelligra, Vittorio; Reggiani, Tommaso
  7. Honesty in the City By Dufwenberg, Martin; Servátka, Maroš; Tarrasó, Jorge; Vadovič, Radovan
  8. Persecution and Escape: Professional Networks and High-Skilled Emigration from Nazi Germany By Sascha O. Becker; Volker Lindenthal; Sharun Mukand; Fabian Waldinger
  9. Behavioral Consequences of Religious Education By Abu Siddique
  10. Hang Up on Stereotypes: Domestic Violence and Anti-Abuse Helpline Campaign By Colagrossi, M.; Deiana, C.; Geraci, A.; Giua, L.
  11. Disguising Prejudice: Popular Rationales as Excuses for Intolerant Expression By Leonardo Bursztyn; Ingar Haaland; Aakaash Rao; Christopher Roth
  12. Culture, Cognition, and Social Exchange: A Classic Case Study of Social Negotiation Network Dynamics By Stolte, John Dr.
  13. The long road to democracy: Does the demand for democracy affect its actual level? By Fedotenkov, Igor
  14. Farmers Follow the Herd: A Theoretical Model on Social Norms and Payments for Environmental Services By Philippe Le Coent; Raphaële Préget; Sophie Thoyer
  15. Nudges and Threats: Soft vs Hard Incentives for Tax Compliance By Andersson, Henrik; Engström, Per; Nordblom, Katarina; Wanander, Susanna
  16. In-group versus Out-group Preferences in Intergroup Conflict: An Experiment By Subhasish M. Chowdhury; Anwesha Mukherjee; Roman M. Sheremeta
  17. Interactions between social norms and incentive mechanisms in organizations By Ravshanbek Khodzhimatov; Stephan Leitner; Friederike Wall
  18. Mutual Embeddedness: The Architecture of Civil-Military Relations in Vietnam By Vuving, Alexander

  1. By: El-Bialy, Nora; Fraile Aranda, Elisa; Nicklisch, Andreas; Saleh, Lamis; Voigt, Stefan
    Abstract: We analyze possible links between both trust and trustworthiness among Syrian refugees in Germany in relation to the refugees' involvement in two different forms of social networking (forming bonding ties with other refugees vs. forming bridging ties between refugees and Germans). We implement treatment conditions in which Syrian refugees play a trust game either with another Syrian refugee or with a German participant. Our results show that Syrians who engage in bonding networks show higher levels of trust and (un)conditional trustworthiness when they interact with a Syrian compared to when interacting with a German participant. In turn, the negative discrimination refugees display towards Germans decreases regarding trust and conditional trustworthiness, and vanishes regarding unconditional trustworthiness, for refugees engaged in bridging networks. The type of social ties created by the refugees correlates with their living conditions: newly arrived Syrian refugees tend to engage in bonding networks, whereas both staying longer in Germany and having a private home in Germany coincide with increased engagement in bridging networks. Thus, residence in a refugee camp appears to be an important barrier to the proliferation of social networks between hosts and refugees.
    Keywords: bonding,bridging,refugees,traumatic experience,trust,trustworthiness,social capital,experiments
    JEL: C93 D91 J15 Z13
    Date: 2021
  2. By: John M. Barrios (University of Chicago - Booth School of Business); Efraim Benmelech (Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management); Yael V. Hochberg (Rice University - Jones Graduate School of Business); Paola Sapienza (Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management); Luigi Zingales (University of Chicago - Booth School of Business)
    Abstract: The success of non-pharmaceutical interventions to contain pandemics often depends greatly upon voluntary compliance with government guidelines. What explains variation in voluntary compliance? Using mobile phone and survey data, we show that during the early phases of COVID-19, voluntary social distancing was higher when individuals exhibit a higher sense of civic duty. This is true for U.S. individuals, U.S. counties, and European regions. We also show that after U.S. states began re-opening, social distancing remained more prevalent in high civic capital counties. Our evidence points to the importance of civic capital in designing public policy responses to pandemics.
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Daron Acemoglu (Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Department of Economics; CEPR; NBER); Georgy Egorov (Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; NBER); Konstantin Sonin (University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy; Higher School of Economics; CEPR)
    Abstract: In this essay, we provide a simple conceptual framework to elucidate the forces that lead to institutional persistence and change. Our framework is based on a dynamic game between different groups, who care both about current policies and institutions and future policies, which are themselves determined by current institutional choices, and clarifies the forces that lead to the most extreme form of institutional persistence (“institutional stasis†) and the potential drivers of institutional change. We further study the strategic stability of institutions, which arises when institutions persist because of fear of subsequent, less beneficial changes that would follow initial reforms. More importantly, we emphasize that, despite the popularity of ideas based on institutional stasis in the economics and political science literatures, most institutions are in a constant state of flux, but their trajectory may still be shaped by past institutional choices, thus exhibiting “path-dependent change†, so that initial conditions determine both the subsequent trajectories of institutions and how they respond to shocks. We conclude the essay by discussing how institutions can be designed to bolster stability, the relationship between social mobility and institutions, and the interplay between culture and institutions.
    Keywords: Conflict, constitutions, democracy, institutions, institutional change, persistence, stability
    JEL: P16 D72 D74 C73 N10 N40
    Date: 2020
  4. By: John A. List (University of Chicago - Department of Economics; NBER); Fatemeh Momeni (University of Chicago - Crime and Education Labs); Yves Zenou (Monash University - Department of Economics)
    Abstract: The behavioral revolution within economics has been largely driven by psychological insights, with the sister sciences playing a lesser role. This study leverages insights from sociology to explore the role of neighborhoods on human capital formation at an early age. We do so by estimating the spillover effects from a large-scale early childhood intervention on the educational attainment of over 2,000 disadvantaged children in the United States. We document large spillover effects on both treatment and control children who live near treated children. Interestingly, the spillover effects are localized, decreasing with the spatial distance to treated neighbors. Perhaps our most novel insight is the underlying mechanisms at work: the spillover effect on non-cognitive scores operate through the child's social network while parental investment is an important channel through which cognitive spillover effects operate. Overall, our results reveal the importance of public programs and neighborhoods on human capital formation at an early age, highlighting that human capital accumulation is fundamentally a social activity.
    JEL: C93 I21 I24 I26 I28 R1
    Date: 2020
  5. By: Alberto Bisin (NYU, NBER, and CEPR); Jared Rubin (Chapman University); Avner Seror (Aix-Marseille School of Economics); Thierry Verdier (PSE, Ecole des Ponts-Paris Tech, PUC-Rio, and CEPR)
    Abstract: Recent theories of the Long Divergence between Middle Eastern and Western European economies focus on Middle Eastern (over-)reliance on religious legitimacy, use of slave soldiers, and persistence of restrictive proscriptions of religious (Islamic) law. These theories take as exogenous the cultural values that complement the prevailing institutions. As a result, they miss the role of cultural values in either supporting the persistence of or inducing change in the economic and institutional environment. In this paper, we address these issues by modeling the joint evolution of institutions and culture. In doing so, we place the various hypotheses of economic divergence into one, unifying framework. We highlight the role that cultural transmission plays in reinforcing institutional evolution toward either theocratic or secular states. We extend the model to shed light on political decentralization and technological change in the two regions.
    Keywords: Long Divergence; cultural transmission; institutions; legitimacy; religion
    JEL: O10 P16 P48 N34 N35 Z12 O33
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Medda, Tiziana; Pelligra, Vittorio; Reggiani, Tommaso (Cardiff Business School)
    Abstract: Experimental social scientists working at research-intensive institutions deal inevitably with subjects who have most likely participated in previous experiments. It is an important methodological question to know whether participants that have acquired a high level of lab-sophistication show altered pro-social behavioral patterns. In this paper, we focus both on the potential effect of the subjects’ lab-sophistication, and on the role of the knowledge about the level of lab-sophistication of the other participants. Our main findings show that while lab-sophistication per se does not significantly affect pro-social behaviour, for sophisticated sub-jects the knowledge about the counterpart’s level of (un)sophistication may systematically alter their choices. This result should induce caution among experimenters about whether, in their settings, information about labsophistication can be inferred by the participants, due to the characteristics of the recruitment mechanisms, the management of the experimental sessions or to other contextual clues.
    Keywords: Lab-sophistication; Experimental Methodology; External Validity; Pro-social behaviour; Cooperation
    JEL: D03 D83 C91 C9
    Date: 2021–02
  7. By: Dufwenberg, Martin; Servátka, Maroš; Tarrasó, Jorge; Vadovič, Radovan
    Abstract: Lab evidence on trust games involves more cooperation than conventional economic theory predicts. We explore whether this pattern extends to a field setting where (much like in a lab) we are able to control for (lack of) repeat-play and reputation: cab drivers in Mexico City. We find a remarkably high degree of trustworthiness, also with price-haggling, which is predicted to reduce trustworthiness.
    Keywords: trust, honesty, reciprocity, field experiment, haggling, taxis
    JEL: C72 C90 C93
    Date: 2021–02–22
  8. By: Sascha O. Becker (Monash U and U Warwick); Volker Lindenthal (University of Munich); Sharun Mukand (University of Warwick); Fabian Waldinger (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 rst 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.
    Date: 2021–02
  9. By: Abu Siddique (Technical University of Munich)
    Abstract: I investigate how long-term exposure to religious education affects economic behavior of children. To identify the effect of religious education, I exploit residential schools for orphans in Bangladesh that differ in terms of religious curriculum and social environment, limits transmission of beliefs and preferences from parents to children following being orphaned, makes social learning by children limited after school enrolment, and mitigates issues concerning endogenous school choice by parents. Using a lab-in-the-field experiment in this natural setting, I measure children's behavior and find that (i) children receiving religious education are more altruistic and honest relative to children receiving secular education; (ii) religious education does not affect risk aversion, cooperation, trust, and trustworthiness of children; and, (iii) behavioral differences are driven by children who are around puberty and completed primary education. My findings provide useful insights into how long-term exposure to religious education can affect behavior - possibly by shifting preferences - during childhood and adolescence.
    Keywords: Economic behavior, preference formation, religious education, selection bias, lab-in-the-field experiment, Bangladesh.
    JEL: C9 D91 I21 Z12
    Date: 2021–02
  10. By: Colagrossi, M.; Deiana, C.; Geraci, A.; Giua, L.
    Abstract: We estimate the consequences of a Government-led anti-domestic-abuse campaign launched in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic on the number of calls to the Italian domestic violence helpline. In the week after the start of the campaign, we document a sharp increase in the number of calls. By exploiting geographical variation in the exposure to the campaign ads aired on public TV networks, we find that higher exposure is associated with an increase in the number of calls during the weeks after the launch of the campaign. Moreover, the effectiveness of the media campaign is hindered in areas where gender stereotypes are stronger, even when differentials in income and violence are accounted for. More efforts to break down gender stereotypes are needed to successfully increase domestic violence reporting.
    Keywords: Domestic violence; Welfare policy; Gender stereotypes; Covid-19;
    JEL: I18 I38 J12
    Date: 2021–02
  11. By: Leonardo Bursztyn (University of Chicago - Department of Economics; NBER); Ingar Haaland (University of Bergen - Department of Economics; CESifo); Aakaash Rao (Harvard University - Department of Economics); Christopher Roth (University of Warwick - Department of Economics; briq; CEPR; CESifo; CAGE)
    Abstract: We study the use of excuses to justify socially stigmatized actions, such as opposing minority groups. Rationales to oppose minorities change some people’s private opinions, leading them to take anti-minority actions even if they are not prejudiced against minorities. When these rationales become common knowledge, prejudiced people who are not persuaded by the rationale can pool with unprejudiced people who are persuaded. This decreases the stigma associated with anti-minority expression, increasing public opposition to minority groups. We examine this mechanism through several large-scale experiments in the context of anti-immigrant behavior in the United States. In the first main experiment, participants learn about a study claiming that immigrants increase crime rates and then choose whether to authorize a publicly observable donation to an anti-immigrant organization. Informing participants that others will know that they learned about the study substantially increases donation rates. In the second main experiment, participants learn that a previous respondent authorized a donation to an anti-immigrant organization and then make an inference about the respondent’s motivations. Participants who are informed that the respondent learned about the study prior to authorizing the donation see the respondent as less intolerant and more easily persuadable.
    Keywords: Social image, excuses, persuasion, media, propaganda, political attitudes
    Date: 2020
  12. By: Stolte, John Dr.
    Abstract: How do automatic vs. controlled, hot vs. cold, and agentic vs. communal facets of cultural cognition operate together in a perspective informed by social neuroscience? This question is explored by re-imagining Malinowski’s classic ethnographic case study of the Kula in light of a contemporary social exchange theory of negotiation networks. We propose: (1) sub-institutional patterns of power-dependence form a structural foundation for the rise of tacit meanings, which evolve through social negotiation into explicit, cultural meaning agreements; (2) crucial sub-cultural categories form around the pursuit of both agentic benefits and communal benefits; (3) an individual is culturally shaped through externalization, socialization, and internalization to value and be motivated to seek both kinds of benefits; (4) an individual faces the existential task of navigating both agentic and communal situations across the negotiation network; (5) the basic individual mechanism underlying such navigation entails motivated behavioral choice and motivated cultural cognition; (6) a behavioral choice rests on automatic, largely implicit and hot cognitive processing; (7) motivated cultural cognition rests mostly on the deliberate, mostly explicit, and cool selection of materials from the prevailing cultural toolkit for assembling a justification, but whose underlying trajectory is biased by an automatic, hot value-position, whether agentic or communal. Based on the analysis, some directions for future empirical research are suggested.
    Date: 2021–02–16
  13. By: Fedotenkov, Igor
    Abstract: In this paper, we evaluate if the demand for democracy affects the actual level of democracy. The analysis is based on the World Values Survey and Worldwide Governance Indicators data and is applied to a sample of 70 countries. We focus on the dynamics of the level of democracy within the individual countries, and not on cross-country differences. We find that in the short run, agents’ attitudes towards democracy are negatively correlated with the actual level of democracy. This finding may be explained by crackdowns initiated by authoritarian governments for their self-preservation. Future levels of democracy can be predicted by the agents’ demand for an authoritarian leader unhindered by a parliament or elections. Transformations, however, are far from immediate. Our estimations suggest that the time-lag between a decline in the demand for an authoritarian leader and an increase in the level of democracy is around six years. An additional finding is that a greater dependence on oil revenues is associated with a lower democracy level.
    Keywords: Democracy; political leaders; panel data analysis; World Values Survey.
    JEL: D70 D72 P48 Y8
    Date: 2021–01–29
  14. By: Philippe Le Coent (BRGM - Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM)); Raphaële Préget (CEE-M - Centre d'Economie de l'Environnement - Montpellier - UMR 5211 - UM - Université de Montpellier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Montpellier SupAgro - Institut national d’études supérieures agronomiques de Montpellier - Institut Agro - Institut national d'enseignement supérieur pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement); Sophie Thoyer (CEE-M - Centre d'Economie de l'Environnement - Montpellier - UMR 5211 - UM - Université de Montpellier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Montpellier SupAgro - Institut national d’études supérieures agronomiques de Montpellier - Institut Agro - Institut national d'enseignement supérieur pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)
    Abstract: This article analyses the role played by social norms in farmers' decisions to enroll into an agri-environmental scheme (AES). First, it develops a simple theoretical model highlighting the interplay of descriptive and injunctive norms in farmers' utility functions. Second, an empirical valuation of the effect of social norms is provided based on the results of a stated preference survey conducted with 98 wine-growers in the South of France. Proxies are proposed to capture and measure the weight of social norms in farmers' decision to sign an agri-environmental contract. Our empirical results indicate that the injunctive norm seems to play a stronger role than the descriptive norm.
    Keywords: Voluntary contribution to a public good,Social norms,Behaviour,Farmers,Payments for environmental services
    Date: 2020–12–29
  15. By: Andersson, Henrik (Uppsala University); Engström, Per (Uppsala University); Nordblom, Katarina (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Wanander, Susanna (The Swedish Tax Agency)
    Abstract: We study what induces delinquent taxpayers to pay their taxes due. We use high quality administrative data from the Swedish Tax Agency. We find a strong effect of the standard enforcement regime: a threat of having the debt handed over to the Enforcement Agency increases payments by roughly 10 percentage points. When including actual enforcement, payment increases by around 20 percentage points compared to those who do not risk enforcement. In a field experiment, we compare these effects of standard enforcement to those of much milder nudges, consisting of letters reminding tax delinquents to pay their taxes due. We find that a “pure nudge”, i.e., the inclusion of an extra piece of paper with no valuable information, has an effect of 7-8 percentage points for those who do not risk enforcement upon non-payment. However, the same nudge has no detectable effect for the group at risk of enforcement. Social-norm messages in turn increase payments both for those who risk enforcement and for those who do not, but to a much smaller degree. We also find that a pure nudge works much better for those who receive a physical letter than for those who receive information electronically, while the reaction to the social-norm nudge is significant for those who get the electronic information.
    Keywords: tax compliance; RCT; nudge; quasi-experiment; regression discontinuity
    JEL: C21 D03 D91 H24 H26
    Date: 2021–02
  16. By: Subhasish M. Chowdhury (School of Economics, University of Bath); Anwesha Mukherjee (School of Management, Technische Universitat München); Roman M. Sheremeta (Weatherhead School of Management, Case western Reserve University and Economic Science Institute, Chapman University)
    Abstract: Individuals participating in a group conflict have different preferences, e.g., maximizing their own payoff, maximizing the group’s payoff, or defeating the rivals. When such preferences are present simultaneously, it is difficult to distinctly identify the impact of those preferences on conflict. In order to separate in-group and out-group preferences, we conduct an experiment in which human in-group or out-group players are removed while keeping the game strategically similar. Our design allows us to study (i) how effort in a group conflict vary due to in-group and out-group preferences, and (ii) how the impact of these preferences vary when the two groups have explicitly different social identities. The results of our experiment show that the presence of in-groups enhances concern about individual payoffs. A further presence of outgroups moderates the concern for individual payoffs through an additional concern for own group payoffs. The negative effect of the in-group preferences and the positive effect of the out-group preferences are weaker when group members have a common social identity.
    Keywords: Group conflict; Contest; Identity; Social preferences
    JEL: C91 C92 D74 D91
    Date: 2021
  17. By: Ravshanbek Khodzhimatov; Stephan Leitner; Friederike Wall
    Abstract: We focus on how individual behavior that complies with social norms interferes with performance-based incentive mechanisms in organizations with multiple distributed decision-making agents. We model social norms to emerge from interactions between agents: agents observe other the agents' actions and, from these observations, induce what kind of behavior is socially acceptable. By complying with the induced socially accepted behavior, agents experience utility. Also, agents get utility from a pay-for-performance incentive mechanism. Thus, agents pursue two objectives. We place the interaction between social norms and performance-based incentive mechanisms in the complex environment of an organization with distributed decision-makers, in which a set of interdependent tasks is allocated to multiple agents. The results suggest that, unless the sets of assigned tasks are highly correlated, complying with emergent socially accepted behavior is detrimental to the organization's performance. However, we find that incentive schemes can help offset the performance loss by applying individual-based incentives in environments with lower task-complexity and team-based incentives in environments with higher task-complexity.
    Date: 2021–02
  18. By: Vuving, Alexander
    Abstract: This chapter explores the architecture of civil-military relations in Communist Party-ruled Vietnam. Contrary to the dominant paradigm of civil-military relations in the West, civil-military relations in Vietnam follow a very different logic, that of the Leninist system. The relationship between the military and the party-state in Vietnam is characterized by mutual embeddedness. This is not a zero-sum game as the concept of civilian control implies. In the Leninist system, the military's politicization, political influence and involvement in politics are critical for the Communist Party's hegemony. The Party's absolute, direct, and comprehensive control of the military is the core of civil-military relations in the Leninist system. However, Party control is a reciprocal relationship that gives military leaders more say and more privileges than they would have under more democratic conditions. This reciprocity explains the system’s endurance as well as its internal stability. The Vietnam People's Army is deeply politicized and the political control of the military serves the interests of both the Party and the military leadership. Barring a major political reform in the Vietnam Communist Party itself, the Vietnam People's Army will remain more political than professional and commercial.
    Date: 2021–02–20

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