nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2021‒04‒05
six papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Does growing up in a recession increase compassion? The case of attitudes towards immigration By Maria Cotofan; Robert Dur; Stephan Meier
  2. When the rich do (not) trust the (newly) rich: Experimental evidence on the effects of positive random shocks in the trust game By Bejarano, Hernan; Gillet, Joris; Lara, Ismael Rodríguez
  3. Two Notions of Social Capital By Alpino, Matteo; Mehlum, Halvor
  4. The Usual Suspects: Offender Origin, Media Reporting and Natives' Attitudes Towards Immigration By Sekou Keita; Thomas Renault; Jérôme Valette
  5. Early COVID-19 Government Communication is Associated with Reduced Interest in the QAnon Conspiracy Theory By Ho Fai Chan; Stephanie M. Rizio; Ahmed Skali; Benno Torgler
  6. Tolerant moral judgment drives evolution of collective action By Radzvilavicius, Arunas

  1. By: Maria Cotofan; Robert Dur; Stephan Meier
    Abstract: Macroeconomic conditions during young adulthood have a persistent impact on people's attitudes and preferences. The seminal paper by Giuliano and Spilimbergo (2014) shows that people who grew up in a recession are more likely to favor government redistribution and assistance to the poor. Moreover, they are more likely to believe that bad luck rather than a lack of hard work causes poverty, i.e. they seem to be more compassionate towards the poor. In this paper, we investigate how inclusive this increase in compassion is by studying how macroeconomic conditions experienced during young adulthood affect attitudes towards immigration. Using data from the General Social Survey and the World Value Survey, we find strong evidence that bad macroeconomic circumstances during young adulthood strengthen attitudes against immigration for the rest of people's lives. In addition, growing up in difficult macroeconomic times increases parochialism, i.e. people become more outgroup hostile --- not just against immigrants. Our results thus suggest that the underlying motive for more government redistribution in response to a recession does not originate from a universal increase in compassion, but rather seems to be more self-interested and restricted to one's ingroup.
    Keywords: immigration, attitudes, social preferences, parochialism, redistribution, macroeconomic conditions, impressionable years
    JEL: D9 E7 J1
    Date: 2021–04
  2. By: Bejarano, Hernan; Gillet, Joris; Lara, Ismael Rodríguez
    Abstract: We study behavior in a trust game where first-movers initially have a higher endowment than second-movers but the occurrence of a positive random shock can eliminate this inequality by increasing the endowment of the second-mover before the decision of the first-mover. We find that second-movers return less (i.e., they are less trustworthy) when they have a lower endowment than first-movers, compared with the case in which first and second-movers have the same endowment. Second-movers who received the positive shock return more than those who did not; in fact, second-movers who received the positive shock return more than second-movers who had the same endowment as the first-mover from the outset. First-movers do not seem to anticipate this behavior from second-movers. They send less to second-movers who benefited from a shock. These findings suggest that in addition to the distribution of the endowments the source of this distribution plays an important role in determining the levels of trust and trustworthiness. This, in turn, implies that current models of inequality aversion should be extended to accommodate for reference points if random positive shocks are possible in the trust game.
    Date: 2021–01–23
  3. By: Alpino, Matteo; Mehlum, Halvor
    Abstract: We propose a model that reconciles two aspects of social capital: social capital as reciprocal sharing of favors within a selected group vs. social capital as trust that lubricates transactions in societies. The core assumption is that individuals have productive potentials, e.g. innovations, that can not be put at use autonomously. However, individuals can associate in a club to match productive innovator-implementor dyads among the members. For a given club, allowing one new member has the effect of a) an increased pool of innovations and b) an increased pool of potential implementors. Whether a particular member supports the expansion of the club depends on whether she expects to be an implementor or an innovator. When expansion of membership is decided by vote, both small exclusive clubs and open clubs encompassing the whole society can emerge. The outcome depends both on the voting protocol, on the distribution of innovator and implementor skills, and on the maximal potential club size. Moreover, identical environments may generate multiple equilibrium club sizes. In which of these the society ends up depends on the initial conditions and on the voting protocol.
    Keywords: Social capital, matching, voting in clubs.
    JEL: A13 C78 D71
    Date: 2021–02–04
  4. By: Sekou Keita (IAB - Institute for Employment Research); Thomas Renault (UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Jérôme Valette (UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: Immigration and crime are two first-order issues that are often considered jointly in people's minds. This paper analyzes how media reporting policies on crime impact natives' attitudes towards immigration. We depart from most studies by investigating the content of crime-related articles instead of their coverage. Specifically, we use a radical change in local media reporting on crime in Germany as a natural experiment. This unique framework allows us to estimate whether systematically disclosing the places of origin of criminals affects natives' attitudes towards immigration. We combine individual survey data collected between January 2014 and December 2018 from the German SocioEconomic Panel with data from more than 545,000 crime-related articles in German newspapers and data on their diffusion across the country. Our results indicate that systematically mentioning the origins of criminals, especially when offenders are natives, significantly reduces natives' concerns about immigration.
    Keywords: Immigration,Crime,Media Bias
    Date: 2021–03
  5. By: Ho Fai Chan; Stephanie M. Rizio; Ahmed Skali; Benno Torgler
    Abstract: The QAnon conspiracy theory contends, among other things, that COVID-19 is a conspiracy orchestrated by powerful actors and aimed at repressing civil liberties. We hypothesize that, where government risk communication started early, as measured by the number of days between the start of the communication campaign and the first case in the country, citizens are less likely to turn to conspiratorial explanations for the pandemic. In Study 1, we find strong support for our hypothesis in a global sample of 111 countries, using daily Google search volumes for QAnon as a measure of interest in QAnon. The effect is robust to a variety of sensitivity checks. In Study 2, we show that the effect is not explainable by pre-pandemic cross-country differences in interest in QAnon, nor by ‘secular’ rising interest in QAnon amid the pandemic. When evaluated against pre- pandemic levels of interest in QAnon, we find that a one standard deviation (26.2 days) increase in communication lateness predicts a near-tripling (172 percentage points) increase in interest in QAnon (Study 2). In pre-registered Study 3, we find no support for the proposition that early communication reduces self-reported pandemic-related conspiratorial ideation in a sample of respondents from 67 countries. The latter non-result appears to be partially driven by social desirability bias (Study 4). Overall, our results provide evidence that very extreme beliefs like QAnon are highly responsive to government risk communication, while less extreme forms of conspiracism are perhaps less so.
    Keywords: conspiracy theories; QAnon; COVID-19; coronavirus; government risk communication
    Date: 2021–03
  6. By: Radzvilavicius, Arunas (University of Sydney)
    Abstract: In public goods games, the benefit of collective action is shared among all participants, and this creates strong incentives to defect. Theoretical studies and economic experiments predict that without enforcement mechanisms, cooperation in public goods games should collapse. But human societies have repeatedly resolved collective action dilemmas through social norms and institutions. Humans condition their social behavior on the moral reputations of other individuals, and the reputations themselves reflect their past behavior. Here I show how Indirect Reciprocity mechanisms based on group reputations and group-level norms can evolve to promote collective action in public goods games. Individual reputations reflect moral judgments of social behavior within groups, according to the prevailing social norm. Only three norms previously studied as part of Indirect Reciprocity in pairwise games can sustain public goods investments, and their performance depends on how tolerant individuals are to occasional antisocial behavior within groups. When members of the society have predominantly tolerant moral views towards groups, only the norm that abstains from judgment in morally ambiguous interactions (known as ``Staying'') can sustain collective action.
    Date: 2021–01–29

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