nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2021‒03‒22
sixteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Early life adversity is associated with diminished social trust in adults By Hugo Mell; Lou Safra; Perrine Demange; Yann Algan; Nicolas Baumard; Coralie Chevallier
  2. Persecution and Escape: Professional Networks and High-Skilled Emigration from Nazi Germany By Sascha O. Becker; Volker Lindenthal; Sharun Mukand; Fabian Waldinger
  3. Friendship Networks and Political Opinions: A Natural Experiment among Future French Politicians By Yann Algan; Nicolò Dalvit; Quoc-Anh Do; Alexis Le Chapelain; Yves Zenou
  4. Social Position and Fairness Views By Kristoffer Balle Hvidberg; Claus Thustrup Kreiner; Stefanie Stantcheva
  5. Two Dimensions of Political Trust in Russia By Konstantin A. Kholodilin; Vyacheslav N. Ovchinnikov; Marina Yu. Malkina; Igor A. Moiseev
  6. Group identification and giving: in-group love, out-group hate and their crowding out By Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap; Eugenio Levi; Abhijit Ramalingam
  7. Personal and social norms in a multilevel public goods experiment By Marco Catola; Simone D'Alessandro; Pietro Guarnieri; Veronica Pizziol
  8. The Fetters of the Sib: An Experimental Study in Burkina Faso By Vollan, Björn; Hadnes, Myriam; Nilgen, Marco; Kosfeld, Michael
  9. Examining norms and social expectations surrounding exclusive breastfeeding: Evidence from Mali By Cristina Bicchieri; Upasak Das; Samuel Gant; Rachel Sander
  10. COVID-19 Vaccination in Bangladesh: Challenges on Price, Misinformation, and Trust By Ahamad, Mazbahul G; Islam, A. K. M. Nazrul; Talukder, Byomkesh; Ahmed, Monir U.
  11. Misinformation: determinants of gullibility By Gruener, Sven
  12. A Japan’s Experimental Comparison of Rebate and Matching in Charitable Giving By Shusaku Sasaki; Hirofumi Kurokawa; Fumio Ohtake
  13. Lost in transition? The persistence of dictatorship mayors By Gonzalez, Felipe; Muñoz, Pablo; Prem, Mounu
  14. Locked Down or Locked In? Institutionalized Public Preferences and Pandemic Policy Feedback in 32 Countries By Nguyen, Hung; Breznau, Nate; Heukamp, Lisa
  15. Community Responses to the Coronavirus Pandemic: Case Study Report By Ellie Benton; Anne Power
  16. Lying and social norms: a lab-in-the-field experiment with children By Despoina Alempaki; Genyue Fu; Jingcheng Fu

  1. By: Hugo Mell (Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS)); Lou Safra (Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS)); Perrine Demange (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)); Yann Algan (Département d'économie); Nicolas Baumard (École normale supérieure - Paris (ENS Paris)); Coralie Chevallier (École normale supérieure - Paris (ENS Paris))
    Abstract: Social trust is at the center of democratic societies but it varies considerably between individuals and societies, which deeply affects a range of prosocial behaviours. Socioeconomic status has been identified as an important predictor of such variability. Although this association has mostly been reported for measures of socioeconomic status taken in adulthood, recent studies have found unique effects of harsh conditions experienced during childhood on social trust assessed decades later. Here, we report a series of three studies that provide further support for the long-lasting association between early childhood conditions and social trust. The first study revealed that higher childhood socioeconomic status was associated with greater social trust in a diverse sample of French participants (N=915), even after adjusting for current socioeconomic status. The second study replicated this result using data from the European Values Study, an independent large-scale survey of 46 European countries (N=66,281). Finally, the last study found a similar association between socioeconomic status and willingness to invest in a trust game (N=60 in original study, N=75 in replication study).
    Date: 2020–03
  2. By: Sascha O. Becker; Volker Lindenthal; Sharun Mukand; Fabian Waldinger
    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: professional networks, high-skilled emigration, Nazi Germany, Jewish academics, universities
    JEL: I20 I23 I28 J15 J24 N30 N34 N40 N44
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Yann Algan (Département d'économie); Nicolò Dalvit (Département d'économie); Quoc-Anh Do (Département d'économie); Alexis Le Chapelain; Yves Zenou (Research Institute of Industrial Economics)
    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: Extremism; Friendship Effect; Homophily; Learning; Natural experiment; Polarization; Politcal opinion; Social networks
    JEL: C93 D72 Z13
    Date: 2019–06
  4. By: Kristoffer Balle Hvidberg; Claus Thustrup Kreiner; Stefanie Stantcheva
    Abstract: We link survey data containing Danish people’s perceptions of where they rank in various reference groups and fairness views with administrative records on their income history, life events, and reference groups. People know their income positions well, but believe others are closer to themselves than they really are. The perceived fairness of inequalities is strongly related to current social position, moves with shocks to social position (e.g., unemployment or promotions), and changes when people are experimentally shown their actual positions. People view inequalities within education group and co-workers as most unfair, but underestimate inequality the most exactly within these reference groups.
    Keywords: social position, fairness views, inequality, misperceptions, information experiment
    JEL: D31 C81
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Konstantin A. Kholodilin; Vyacheslav N. Ovchinnikov; Marina Yu. Malkina; Igor A. Moiseev
    Abstract: This paper analyzes two dimensions of factors of political trust in Russia. The first dimension is the target dimension (sociotropic vs. egocentric), the second dimension is the time dimension (retrospective vs. perspective). The study is based on the microdata of 2016 Life in Transition Survey (LiTS) of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. We find a robust evidence in favor of the dominant sociotropic channel of political trust. Thus, individuals, when deciding whether to trust or not trust into the Russian government, are primarily guided by the improvements in the external environment. Moreover, we find that the impact of sociotropic factors on political trust depends on the level of government. The improvements in political performance are the most important determinant of trust in the Russian president, while the institutional change and the economic development are the most important determinants in the models of trust in other government levels. Finally, we find that individuals who have lost their wealth show more trust than those who have preserved or increased it. However, this effect only works, if individuals are optimistic toward the future.
    Keywords: Political trust, sociotropic channel, egocentric channel Russia, microdata, Life in Transition Survey
    JEL: P26 P27 P37
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap (Department of Political Economy, King’s College London); Eugenio Levi (Department of Public Economics, Masaryk University); Abhijit Ramalingam (Department of Economics, Walker College of Business, Appalachian State University)
    Abstract: Using a dictator game experiment, we examine whether the introduction of group identities affects giving. Group identities can activate feelings of in-group love and out-group hate to create an in-group bias. In addition, group identities may spawn social sanctions that are designed to reinforce this in-group bias. We find that the aggregate effect on giving of group identities alone tends to be positive but depends on the relative size of two sub-sets of the subject pool: those who exhibit an in-group bias and those who do not. With the latter, the introduction of group identities has no effect on giving. With the former, the in-group bias arises from both in-group love and out-group hate and with interactions skewed towards own group members, in-group love will dominate to produce an increase in gifts. Sanctions too depend for their aggregate effect on the relative size of these two sub-sets in the population, but in the opposite way. This is because in-group biased preferences are crowded-in by the sanctions among the hitherto equal givers and in-group biased preferences are crowded-out among those who would otherwise exhibit the in-group bias.
    Keywords: dictator game, in-group love, out-group hate, crowding-out
    JEL: C72 C91 D31 D63 D91 J70 Z18
    Date: 2021–03
  7. By: Marco Catola; Simone D'Alessandro; Pietro Guarnieri; Veronica Pizziol
    Abstract: In this study we provide a novel measurement of personal normative beliefs, empirical expectations and normative expectations in the multilevel public goods game. The objective is twofold. On the one hand, we aim at investigating whether personal and social norms are reactive to variations in the relative efficiency of the public goods. On the other hand, we aim at understating which kind of norm better explains contribution to both the public goods. In our online experiment, personal norms, as elicited by personal normative beliefs, play a crucial role. They are both more reactive to efficiency gains and more in line with contribution decisions as efficiency increases. However, social norms, as elicited by empirical expectations and normative expectations, still anchor contribution decisions to social expectations, especially when the efficiency of the related public good is relatively low. Moreover, we highlight a norm spillover effect among the public goods with the empirical expectations concerning one good impacting (negatively) the contribution to the other public good. This result reveals how norms referred to alternative reference networks may interact with each other and possibly conflict.
    Keywords: Multilevel public good game, online experiment, personal norms, social norms, social dilemma
    JEL: C9 D71 H4
    Date: 2021–03–01
  8. By: Vollan, Björn (University of Marburg); Hadnes, Myriam (workshops work); Nilgen, Marco (University of Marburg); Kosfeld, Michael (Goethe University Frankfurt)
    Abstract: We conducted a field experiment in Burkina Faso to investigate the impact of sharing obligations within kin networks on entrepreneurial effort. The overall treatment effect we find is insignificant and goes in the opposite direction than previous literature suggests. Ex-post explorative analysis reveals that entrepreneurs in the two experimental groups reacted differently in their production process, with some entrepreneurs in the treatment group being able to utilize their kin network to their joint advantage.
    Keywords: field experiment, redristributive pressure, social norms, sharing norms, business development, Burkina Faso
    JEL: C93 D13 H24 H26 O12
    Date: 2021–02
  9. By: Cristina Bicchieri; Upasak Das; Samuel Gant; Rachel Sander
    Abstract: Why do people engage in certain behavior. What are the effects of social expectations and perceptions of community behavior and beliefs on own behavior. Given that proper infant feeding practices are observable and have significant health impacts, we explore the relevance of these questions in the context of exclusive infant breastfeeding behavior using social norms theory. We make use of a primary survey of mothers of children below the age of two years in the Kayes and Sikasso region of Mali, which have a historically lower prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding. The findings from regression estimations, controlling for a host of potential confounding factors, indicate that expectations about the behavior of other community members can strongly predict individual exclusive breastfeeding. Beliefs about approval of the infant feeding behavior of the community though are found to be only modestly associated with it. In addition, mothers who hold false but positive beliefs about the community are found to exclusively breastfeed their kids. Further, using responses from randomly assigned vignettes where we experimentally manipulated the levels of social expectations, our data reveal a strong relationship between perceived prevalence of community level exclusive breastfeeding and individual behavior. This result indicates the existence of a potential causal relationship. We argue that our findings represent an important foundation for the design of policy interventions aimed at altering social expectations, and thus effecting a measurable change in individual behaviors. This type of intervention, by using social norm messaging to end negative behavior, avoids the use of coercive measures to effect behavior change in a cost-effective and efficient way.
    Date: 2021–03
  10. By: Ahamad, Mazbahul G (University of Nebraska–Lincoln); Islam, A. K. M. Nazrul; Talukder, Byomkesh; Ahmed, Monir U.
    Abstract: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination discussions in Bangladesh have exposed concerns and revealed challenges that must be overcome for the successful implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. Vaccine prices, misinformation, and trust are expected to be major potential barriers to achieving the necessary vaccination rates to combat the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in Bangladesh. In this commentary, we explore the roles played by vaccine prices and public health risk communications in achieving an inclusive vaccination strategy against COVID-19, especially among the country’s low-income population.
    Date: 2021–02–05
  11. By: Gruener, Sven
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the susceptibility to misinformation in a survey experiment by considering three hand-picked topics (climate change, Covid-19, and artificial intelligence). Subjects had to rate the reliability of several statements within these fields. We find evidence for a monological belief system (i.e., being susceptible to one statement containing misinformation is correlated with falling to other false news stories). Moreover, trust in social networks is positively associated with falling for misinformation. Whereas, there is some evidence that risk perception, willingness to think deliberately, actively open-minded thinking, and trust in science and media protects against being susceptible to misinformation. Surprisingly, the level of education does not seem to matter much.
    Date: 2021–01–24
  12. By: Shusaku Sasaki; Hirofumi Kurokawa; Fumio Ohtake
    Abstract: This study uses a Japanese nationwide sample and experimentally compares rebate and matching, both of which are schemes intended to lower the price of monetary donation. Standard economic theory predicts that the two schemes will have the same effect on individuals’ donation behavior when their donation price is equivalent. However, we conduct an incentivized economic experiment through the Internet on 2,300 Japanese residents, and find that matching, which lowers the donation price by adding a contribution from a third-party, increases individuals’ donation expenditures compared to rebate, which lowers it through a refund from a third-party. Specifically, the experimental result shows that the donation expenditure in a 50% rebate treatment drops by approximately ¥126 compared to the control, while in a 1:1 matching treatment with essentially the same price of donation as the 50% rebate, the expenditure conversely rises by approximately ¥56. This tendency is consistent with the results of previous experimental studies comparing the two schemes. We further empirically confirm that the superiority of 1:1 matching over 50% rebate is not conclusively influenced by the participants’ confusion or misunderstanding, or budget constraint lines’ difference between the two schemes. Although the Japanese government have previously enriched rebate’s content, the level of monetary donations by the Japanese people is still low on an international scale. Based on this study’s findings, we discuss the possibility that implementing matching into the society effectively encourages their donation behavior.
    Date: 2021–01
  13. By: Gonzalez, Felipe (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile); Muñoz, Pablo; Prem, Mounu
    Abstract: We look at Chile’s transition to democracy in 1990 to study the persistence of authoritarian politics at the local level. Using new data on the universe of mayors appointed by the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), and leveraging on the arbitrary election rules that characterized the first local election in 1992, we present two main findings. First, dictatorship mayors obtained a vote premium that is larger among the last wave of incumbents and appears partially explained by an increase in local spending. Second, dictatorship mayors who were democratically elected in 1992 brought votes for the parties that collaborated with the dictatorship in subsequent elections held in democracy. These results show that the body of politicians appointed by a dictatorship can contribute to the persistence of elites and institutions.
    Date: 2021–01–27
  14. By: Nguyen, Hung; Breznau, Nate (University of Bremen); Heukamp, Lisa
    Abstract: The Novel Coronavirus Pandemic provides a unique opportunity to test theories of policy feedback in times of national emergency. An important question in this field is whether the discrepancy between public attitudes and emergency rules makes ordinary citizens less likely to comply, which in turn can undermine the goals of that national emergency policies such as the recent lockdown. In this study, we first compare 2016 institutionalized non-Covid related public preferences for government intervention to government actions taken at the outbreak of this pandemic in early March 2020 across 32 middle to high income countries, using aggregated data from the International Social Survey Program and country-level Blavatnik Coronavirus Government Response Tracker data. Then, we use the relative discrepancy between them to predict public behaviors shortly after the initial outbreak in late-March into early April using the Measuring Worldwide COVID-19 Attitudes and Beliefs survey. We find no association between public preferences and government response at the outbreak; however, we find some tentative evidence that the discrepancy between them shows a relationship with public behaviors in the subsequent stage, after adjusting for the local severity of the outbreak and the current level of government intervention. Where the government took much stronger interventions in the outbreak stage relative to public preferences for non-Covid government interventions, the public were more likely to engage in risky social behaviors, such as going out when asked not to, attending social gatherings, or not keeping a safe distance from others. In contrast, where the government took weaker measures, the public were instead more likely to avoid risky social behaviors. Although we cannot conclude whether this means that the enforced measures were more or less effective, our results may suggest that governments took stronger measures in countries where they expected more risky behaviors and that there may be a tradeoff between institutionalized public preferences and the ability to curtail social behaviours.
    Date: 2021–01–28
  15. By: Ellie Benton; Anne Power
    Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that followed created a unique set of circumstances: people over 70 and those with underlying health conditions were forced to self-isolate; day to day activities stopped; people began working from home and were cut off from families and friends. The forced closure of many businesses created economic anxieties and nine million people were put on furlough. The virus put extra pressure on NHS staff and carers who had to continue their day to day duties. In response to these unprecedented circumstances, a wave of community spirit spread across the country. 750,000 people signed up to the NHS volunteer scheme, 250,000 signed up to local volunteer schemes in the first 3 weeks of lockdown, and there are countless examples of small local initiatives to raise people's spirits such as community gardens. Alongside this wave of volunteering, there was a surge in the formation of mutual aid groups. There are now 43000 mutual aid groups across the country. LSE Housing and Communities has a long-standing interest in the role of mutual aid in helping to tackle community problems. To capture the community response to the pandemic and understand the role that mutual aid groups were having in helping people in communities we contacted 70 mutual aid groups and selected 20 to be the main focus of our research. Our main findings are available in our report CHR(34)Community Responses to the Coronavirus Pandemic: How mutual aid can helpCHR(34) ( We also had conversations with organisations such as housing associations that were going above and beyond their everyday duties to support their tenants. This report contains 21 case studies representing a range of type, size, and geographical locations of groups. We hope the case studies demonstrate the amazing work that the groups are doing to support their local communities. This research was conducted between May and September 2020 and the information in this report reflects information that was gathered during this period.
    Keywords: community, volunteering, mutual aid groups, case study,
    Date: 2021–02
  16. By: Despoina Alempaki (University of Warwick); Genyue Fu (Hangzhou Normal University, China); Jingcheng Fu (National University of Singapore)
    Abstract: We conduct a lab-in-the-field experiment with 567 children, aged four to eleven, in which we investigate the effect of social norms on lying and test whether norm sensitivity changes with age. Children think about a number between 1 and 6 in private, then roll a die, and report whether the number that came up is the same as the one they thought of. Just before making their report, we expose children to different empirical and normative information prescribing lying or honesty. We show that a normative intervention suggesting other children approve of honesty effectively reduces lying. We find limited evidence of the influence of our empirical interventions: information suggesting other children report honestly is effective only for younger children, while information suggesting other children report dishonestly does not influence lying patterns. We further observe that, although lying is omnipresent across all age groups, honesty significantly increases with age.
    Keywords: truth-telling, lying, social norms, children, lab-in-the-field experiment
    Date: 2021–01

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