nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2021‒03‒15
twelve papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. The Immigrant Next Door: Exposure, Prejudice, and Altruism By Leonardo Bursztyn; Thomas Chaney; Tarek Alexander Hassan; Aakash Rao
  2. Make it or Break it: Vaccination Intention at the Time of Covid-19 By Jacques Bughin; Michele Cincera; Kelly Peters; Dorota Reykowska; Marcin Zyszkiewicz; Rafal Ohme
  3. Productivity, managers' social connections and the Great Recession By Iftekhar Hasan; Stefano Manfredonia
  4. Social cohesion after armed conflict: A literature review By Fiedler, Charlotte; Rohles, Christopher
  5. The Evolution of Sectarianism By Ille, Sebastian
  6. Language and xenophobia By Rottner, Florian
  7. How can culture affect taxation? A postmaterialism value approach By Nicolae-Bogdan IANC; Thierry BAUDASSE
  8. Moving on up: The impact of income mobility on antisocial behaviour By Lata Gangadharan; Philip J. Grossman; Joe Vecci
  9. Organisational culture and bank risk By Suss, Joel; Bholat, David; Gillespie, Alex; Reader, Tom
  10. Technological advance, social fragmentation and welfare By Bosworth, Steven; Snower, Dennis J.
  11. Global survey on COVID-19 beliefs, behaviors, and norms By Collis, Avinash; Garimella, Kiran; Moehring, Alex; Rahimian, M. Amin; Babalola, Stella; Gobat, Nina; Shattuck, Dominick; Stolow, Jeni; Eckles, Dean; Aral, Sinan
  12. Deviant or Wrong? The Effects of Norm Information on the Efficacy of Punishment By Cristina Bicchieria; Eugen Dimanta; Erte Xiao

  1. By: Leonardo Bursztyn (University of Chicago - Department of Economics); Thomas Chaney (SciencesPo - Sciences Po - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)); Tarek Alexander Hassan (Boston University); Aakash Rao (Harvard University)
    Abstract: We study how decades-long exposure to individuals of a given foreign descent shapes natives’ attitudes and behavior toward that group, exploiting plausibly exogenous shocks to the ancestral composition of US counties. We combine several existing large-scale surveys, cross-county data on implicit prejudice, a newly-collected national survey, and individualized donations data from large charitable organizations. We first show that greater long-term exposure to Arab-Muslims: i) decreases both explicit and implicit prejudice against Arab-Muslims, ii) reduces support for policies and political candidates hostile toward Arab-Muslims, iii) increases charitable donations to Arab countries, iv) leads to more personal contact with Arab-Muslim individuals, and v) increases knowledge of Arab-Muslims and Islam in general. We then generalize our analysis, showing that exposure to any given foreign ancestry leads to more altruistic behavior toward that group.
    Keywords: contact, attitudes, immigration, prejudice, altruism
    JEL: D83 D91 P16 J15
    Date: 2021
  2. By: Jacques Bughin; Michele Cincera; Kelly Peters; Dorota Reykowska; Marcin Zyszkiewicz; Rafal Ohme
    Abstract: This research updates early studies on the intention to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus among a representative sample of adults in 6 European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the UK) and differentiated by groups of “acceptors”, “refusers”, and “ hesitant”. The research relies on a set of traditional logistic and more complex classification techniques such as Neural Networks and Random Forest techniques to determine common predictors of vaccination preferences. The findings highlight that socio-demographics are not a reliable measure of vaccination propensity, after one controls for different risk perceptions, and illustrate the key role of institutional and peer trust for vaccination success. Policymakers must build vaccine promotion techniques differentiated according to “acceptors”, “refusers”, and “ hesitant”, while restoring much larger trust in their actions upfront since the pandemics if one wishes the vaccination coverage to close part of the gap to the level of herd immunity.
    Keywords: Covid-19, vaccine strategy, deconfinement, priority groups, random-forest, tree classification
    Date: 2021–01
  3. By: Iftekhar Hasan (Fordham University, University of Sydney and Bank of Finland); Stefano Manfredonia (Università di Roma "Tor Vergata")
    Abstract: This paper investigates whether managers' personal connections help corporations to escape the productivity trap. Leveraging the heterogeneity in the severity of the Great Recession across different sectors, the paper reports that (i) the Great Recession had a negative effect on corporate productivity, (ii) the effect was long-lasting and persistent, supporting a productivity-hysteresis hypothesis, (iii) managers' personal connections are counter-cyclical and indeed allowed corporations to escape the productivity trap primarily via favorable credit conditions, in periods of high information asymmetries and tight credit constraints.
    Keywords: Social networks, Great Recession, Productivity.
    JEL: D85 G30 D24
    Date: 2021–03–10
  4. By: Fiedler, Charlotte; Rohles, Christopher
    Abstract: How does armed conflict affect social cohesion, that is, the social fabric of societies? This question is central if we want to understand better why some countries experience repeated cycles of violence. It is also a crucial question for the design of peacebuilding interventions. In recent years, considerable scientific work has been put into studying the social legacies of armed conflict. This literature review brings these academic studies together in a novel way. In this discussion paper we conduct an extensive review of the empirical academic literature on how armed conflict affects social cohesion. We take a holistic perspective and analyse each of the three constituent elements of social cohesion - trust, cooperation and identity - in detail and along both a vertical (state-society relations) and a horizontal (interpersonal and intergroup relations) dimension. Regarding conflict, the focus lies on intrastate conflict and civil war, but the review also includes the few studies that focus on armed conflict between states or groups (interstate and non-state conflict). Overall, this review brings together insights from 39 published, peer-reviewed, empirical studies, most of which analyse the effects of conflict based on comprehensive survey data or behavioural experiments. Strengths and shortcomings are discussed and future avenues for research are identified. Contrary to the initial optimism of the potentially positive legacies of armed conflict expressed by some scholars, our main finding holds that the literature by now mainly points towards such conflict harming social cohesion. Most clearly, there is quite a large body of literature showing that social trust is negatively affected by experience of violence. Research on political trust and social identities is still nascent but currently also points towards negative effects. The literature on cooperation is more mixed with studies finding both support for an increase or a decrease in cooperative behaviour. However, several (and particularly newer) studies demonstrate that an increase in cooperation can often be explained by prosocial behaviour towards the in-group but not the out-group, calling into question whether this should be interpreted positively for social cohesion overall. Political participation does, however, seem to be one aspect of social cohesion in which effects of the "post-traumatic growth" mechanism can indeed be traced in several contexts.
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Ille, Sebastian
    Abstract: Human cooperation for reasons other than self-interest has long intrigued social scientists leading to a substantial literature in economics. Its complement –sectarianism – has not received closer attention in economics despite its significant impact. Based on a dynamic model, the paper shows that sectarianism can be understood as the outcome of a repeated bargaining process in which sectarian affiliation evolves into a pure coordination signal that attributes economic and political benefits. It demonstrates that such sectarian social contracts co-evolve with the sects’ degree of coerciveness and are self-reinforcing. Sectarian conflict may then not be a result of diverging religious ideologies but is shown to be caused by external manipulations of the signal (e.g. via identity politics), and internal political and economic grievances within a sect that spill over to the inter-sectarian level while adopting a sectarian appearance. Theoretical results are supported by empirical findings from the Middle East.
    Keywords: Sectarianism Cooperation, Evolutionary game theory, Agent-based modelling
    JEL: C61 C7 C73 D74 P48 Z1
    Date: 2021–01–18
  6. By: Rottner, Florian
    Abstract: Previous research examining attitudes toward foreigners and immigration has focused primarily on economic, socioeconomic, and cultural variables to explain the different attitudes of individuals toward foreigners. With my research, I add language as another dimension to explain these differences. I use the difference in how languages distinguish between different politeness groups in their second person pronouns to explain how much trust individuals place in foreigners. Using data from the World Value Survey and the World Atlas of Language Structure I find that individuals who speak a language without politeness distinctions have a higher probability to respond that they trust foreigners.
    Date: 2021
  7. By: Nicolae-Bogdan IANC; Thierry BAUDASSE
    Keywords: , culture, social capital, taxation
    Date: 2021
  8. By: Lata Gangadharan; Philip J. Grossman; Joe Vecci
    Abstract: While the causes for upward income mobility have received considerable attention, the behavioural impact of the prospect of mobility has been largely overlooked. Using a survey and experiment, we investigate if the prospect of mobility influences antisocial behaviour. In our experiment, low- and high-income participants make decisions in an investment game in which, at a cost, they can reduce others’ payoff. A unique feature of the experiment is that lowincome participants can move up the income distribution, via chance or effort. Results show that immobility fuels antisocial behaviour, in particular towards high-income participants
    Keywords: Income inequality, Prospect of upward mobility, Antisocial behaviour, Experiment, Survey.
    Date: 2019–06
  9. By: Suss, Joel (Bank of England); Bholat, David (Bank of England); Gillespie, Alex (London School of Economics and Political Science); Reader, Tom (London School of Economics and Political Science)
    Abstract: Existing research has largely relied on employee surveys to measure organisational culture despite the significant shortcomings of this approach. We use multiple, unobtrusive sources of data to gain rich insights into bank culture without ever having to ask employees to ‘show us your culture’. Our measure is based on 20 individual indicators from six different sources, including information on internal fraud cases, customer complaints, and the quality of regulatory submissions. We use this data to investigate the hypothesised relationship between organisational culture and bank risk. We find robust evidence that poor culture leads to substantially higher risk, demonstrating the importance of bank culture for prudential outcomes.
    Keywords: Culture; bank risk; supervision
    JEL: G21 G30 L25
    Date: 2021–03–05
  10. By: Bosworth, Steven; Snower, Dennis J.
    Abstract: This paper models the welfare consequences of social fragmentation arising from technological advance. We start from the premise that technological progress falls primarily on market-traded commodities rather than prosocial relationships, since the latter intrinsically require the expenditure of time and thus are less amenable to productivity increases. Since prosocial relationships require individuals to identify with others in their social group whereas marketable commodities are commonly the objects of social status comparisons, a tradeoff arises between in-group affiliation and inter-group status comparisons. People consequently narrow the bounds of their social groups, reducing their prosocial relationships and extending their status-seeking activities. As prosocial relationships generate positive externalities whereas status-seeking activities generate negative preference externalities, technological advance may lead to a particular type of "decoupling" of social welfare from material prosperity. Once the share of status goods in total production exceeds a crucial threshold, technological advance is shown to be welfare-reducing.
    JEL: D63 D69 D71 E71 I39 O33 Z10
    Date: 2020
  11. By: Collis, Avinash; Garimella, Kiran; Moehring, Alex; Rahimian, M. Amin; Babalola, Stella; Gobat, Nina; Shattuck, Dominick; Stolow, Jeni; Eckles, Dean; Aral, Sinan
    Abstract: Policy and communication responses to COVID-19 can benefit from better understanding of people's baseline and resulting beliefs, behaviors, and norms. We fielded a global survey on these topics. This report provides an overview of the motivation behind the survey design, outlines the survey content and its representation in the respondent-level data, and details the sampling and weighting designed to make the results representative of populations of interest.
    Date: 2020–11–30
  12. By: Cristina Bicchieria; Eugen Dimanta; Erte Xiao
    Abstract: A stream of research examining the effect of punishment on conformity indicates that punishment can backfire and lead to suboptimal social outcomes. In such studies, the enforcement of a behavioral rule to cooperate originates from a single party. This feature may raise concern about the legitimacy of the rule and thereby make it easy for the agents to take a penalty and excuse their selfish behavior. We address the question of punishment legitimacy in our experiment by shedding light upon the importance of social norms and their interplay with punishment mechanisms. We show that the separate enforcement mechanisms of punishment and norms cannot achieve higher cooperation rates. In fact, conformity is significantly increased only in those cases when social norms and punishment are combined, but only when cooperation is cheap. Interestingly, when cooperation is expensive we find that the combination of punishment and empirical information about others conformity can also have traceable detrimental effects on conformity levels. Our results have important implications for researchers and practitioners alike.
    Keywords: Conformity, Experiments, Punishment, Social Norms, Trust Game
    JEL: C91 D03 D73 H26
    Date: 2019–06

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.