nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2021‒05‒03
twelve papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. The Value of Political Connections: Evidence from China’s Anti-Corruption Campaign By Alonso, Marta; Palma, Nuno; Simon-Yarza, Beatriz
  2. In Vaccines We Trust? The Effects of the CIA’s Vaccine Ruse on Immunization in Pakistan By Monica Martinez-Bravo; Andreas Stegmann
  3. The Causal Effect of Cultural Identity on Cooperation By Jeffrey V. Butler; Dietmar Fehr
  4. Persecution and Escape By Becker, Sascha O.; Mukand, Sharun; Lindenthal, Volker; Waldinger, Fabian
  5. Beliefs About Racial Discrimination and Support for Pro-Black Policies By Haaland, Ingar; Roth, Christopher
  6. Disguising Prejudice: Popular Rationales as Excuses for Intolerant Expression By Bursztyn, Leonardo; Haaland, Ingar; Rao, Aakaash; Roth, Christopher
  7. Social Norms Offer Explanation for Inconsistent Effects of Incentives on Prosocial Behavior By Caroline Graf; Eva-Maria Merz; Bianca Suanet; Pamala Wiepking
  8. Understanding the Origins of Populist Political Parties and the Role of External Shocks By Eugenio Levi; Isabelle Sin; Steven Stillman
  9. Inducing Cooperation with Emotion – Who Is Affected? By Gärtner, Manja; Tinghög, Gustav; Västfjäll, Daniel
  10. Control and Spread of Contagion in Networks By John Higgins; Tarun Sabarwal
  11. Social capital and small business productivity: The mediating roles of financing and customer relationships By Christopher Boudreaux; George Clarke; Anand Jha
  12. Leadership in a Public Goods Experiment with Permanent and Temporary Members By Angelova, Vera; Güth, Werner; Kocher, Martin G.

  1. By: Alonso, Marta (University of Navarra); Palma, Nuno (University of Manchester; Instituto de Ciˆencias Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa; CEPR & CAGE); Simon-Yarza, Beatriz (University of Navarra)
    Abstract: We study the value of the political connections of directors on Chinese boards. We build a new dataset that measures connections of directors to members of the Politburo via past school ties, and find that private firms with politically connected directors in the boardroom get on average about 20% higher subsidies over sales (8.52 million yuan). Connected state-owned enterprises access debt at 10% cheaper cost, which translates into 27.8 million yuan lower interest payment on average. We find that the value of the political connections persisted after the Anti-Corruption Campaign of 2012. It became weaker for the cost of debt in state-owned enterprises, but stronger for subsidies to private firms. We argue that the value of connections in the private sector increased after the Anti-Corruption Campaign because they are a less risky alternative to corruption.
    Keywords: Board of directors, Political connections, China, Corruption JEL Classification: G3, H0, O1, P2
    Date: 2021
  2. By: Monica Martinez-Bravo (CEMFI BREAD, CEPR); Andreas Stegmann (University of Warwick and CAGE)
    Abstract: In July 2011, the Pakistani public learnt that the CIA had used a vaccination campaign as cover to capture Osama Bin Laden. The Taliban leveraged on this information and launched an anti-vaccine propaganda campaign to discredit vaccines and vaccination workers. We evaluate the effects of these events on immunization by implementing a Difference-in-Differences strategy across cohorts and districts. We find that vaccination rates declined 12 to 20% per standard deviation in support for Islamist parties. These results suggest that information discrediting vaccination campaigns can negatively affect trust in health services and demand for immunization.
    Keywords: JEL Classification:
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Jeffrey V. Butler; Dietmar Fehr
    Abstract: The impact of culture on non-kin cooperation has been singled out as critical for economic activity. However, causal evidence of culture’s influence on cooperation remains scant. In this paper we provide such evidence, focusing on two key components of culture: preferences and beliefs. Adopting the view that culture is one aspect of an individual’s multi-faceted self-concept (identity) we conduct an experiment with foreign- and US-born Chinese immigrants at a large US public university. In a two-by-two design, we exogenously vary: i) the salience of participants’ American or Chinese cultural identities; and ii) the capacity for culture to affect beliefs by randomly providing previous-session cooperation-rate information. Comparing behavior across cultures and information conditions, our results suggest a prominent role for both preferences and beliefs. In particular, we find that culture’s effects through beliefs are as important as its effects through preferences.
    Keywords: culture, identity, beliefs, preference, experiment
    JEL: C91 D01 O10 P16 Z10
    Date: 2021
  4. By: Becker, Sascha O. (Monash U, U Warwick and CAGE); Mukand, Sharun (University of Warwick and CAGE); Lindenthal, Volker (University of Munich); 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 eect 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.
    Keywords: JEL Classification:
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Haaland, Ingar (University of Bergen and CESifo); Roth, Christopher (University of Warwick, briq, CESifo, CEPR, and CAGE)
    Abstract: This paper provides representative evidence on beliefs about racial discrimination and examines whether information causally affects support for pro-black policies. Eliciting quantitative beliefs about the extent of hiring discrimination against blacks, we uncover large disagreement about the extent of racial discrimination with particularly pronounced partisan differences. An information treatment leads to a convergence in beliefs about racial discrimination but does not lead to a similar convergence in support of pro-black policies. The results demonstrate that while providing information can substantially reduce disagreement about the extent of racial discrimination, it is not sufficient to reduce disagreement about pro-black policies.
    Keywords: Racial Discrimination, Beliefs, Pro-Black Policies, Policy Preferences JEL Classification: C91, D83, J71, J15
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Bursztyn, Leonardo (University of Chicago and NBER); Haaland, Ingar (University of Bergen and CESifo); Rao, Aakaash (Harvard University); Roth, Christopher (University of Warwick, briq, CESifo, CAGE, CEPR)
    Abstract: We study how popular rationales enable public anti-minority actions. Rationales to oppose minorities genuinely persuade some people. But they also provide “excuses†that may reduce the stigma associated with anti-minority expression, thereby increasing anti-minority behavior. In a first experiment, participants learn that a previous respondent authorized a donation to an anti-immigrant organization and then make an inference about the respondent’s underlying motivations. Participants informed that their matched respondent learned about a study claiming that immigrants increase crime rates before authorizing the donation see the respondent as less intolerant. In a second experiment, participants learn about that same study and then choose whether to authorize a public donation to the anti-immigrant organization. Participants informed that their exposure to the rationale will be publicly observable are substantially more likely to make the donation than participants who are informed that their exposure will remain private. A final experiment shows that people are more willing to post anti-immigrant content on social media when they can use an anti-immigrant video clip from Fox News as an excuse. Our findings suggest that prominent public figures can lower the social cost of intolerant expression by popularizing rationales, increasing anti-minority expression.
    Keywords: Social image; xenophobia; propaganda; political attitudes JEL Classification: D83, D91, P16, J15
    Date: 2021
  7. By: Caroline Graf; Eva-Maria Merz; Bianca Suanet; Pamala Wiepking
    Abstract: Incentives have surprisingly inconsistent effects when it comes to encouraging people to behave prosocially. Classical economic theory, according to which a specific behavior becomes more prevalent when it is rewarded, struggles to explain why incentives sometimes backfire. More recent theories therefore posit a reputational cost offsetting the benefits of receiving an incentive -- yet unexplained effects of incentives remain, for instance across incentive types and countries. We propose that social norms can offer an explanation for these inconsistencies. Ultimately, social norms determine the reputational costs or benefits resulting from a given behavior, and thus variation in the effect of incentives may reflect variation in norms. We implemented a formal model of prosocial behavior integrating social norms, which we empirically tested on the real-world prosocial behavior of blood donation. Blood donation is essential for many life-saving medical procedures, but also presents an ideal testing ground for our theory: Various incentive policies for blood donors exist across countries, enabling a comparative approach. Our preregistered analyses reveal that social norms can indeed account for the varying effects of financial and time incentives on individual-level blood donation behavior across 28 European countries. Incentives are associated with higher levels of prosociality when norms regarding the incentive are more positive. The results indicate that social norms play an important role in explaining the relationship between incentives and prosocial behavior. More generally, our approach highlights the potential of integrating theory from across the economic and behavioral sciences to generate novel insights, with tangible consequences for policy-making.
    Date: 2021–04
  8. By: Eugenio Levi (Masaryk University); Isabelle Sin (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research); Steven Stillman (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, CESifo, IZA)
    Abstract: We use electoral survey data to examine the impact that two large external shocks had on the development of New Zealand First (NZF), one of the oldest populist parties in the OECD. We find that structural reforms, which led to large negative impacts on particular locations, and immigration reforms, which led to large spatially concentrated increases in skilled migration, both increased voting for NZF in its first years of existence. These shocks led to changes in political attitudes and policy preferences and had persistent effects on voting for NZF even twenty years later. Overall, they play an important role in explaining the rise of populism in NZ. Understanding how these shocks led to the development of NZF is particularly relevant for thinking about how populism has been extending its reach in the 2010s.
    Keywords: populism; political parties; trade; immigration; shocks
    JEL: D72 P16 H40
    Date: 2021–04
  9. By: Gärtner, Manja (DIW Berlin); Tinghög, Gustav (Linköping University); Västfjäll, Daniel (Linköping University)
    Abstract: We study the effects of dual processing differences that arise from the state level (through experimental manipulation of the decision mode), the trait level (using individual difference measures of the decision mode), and their interaction on cooperative behavior. In a survey experiment with a representative sample of the Swedish population (N = 1,828), we elicited the individuals’ primary decision mode and experimentally varied whether individuals could rely on their preferred mode or were induced to rely either on emotion or reason. Cooperation was measured across a series of commonly used and incentivized games (prisoner’s dilemma game, public goods game, trust game, dictator game). At the state level, our results show that average cooperation rates increased when emotions were induced rather than reason. At the trait level, our results show that individual decision modes and cooperation rates were not correlated when subjects could rely on their primary mode, but traits interacted with our processing manipulation: Experimentally inducing emotions increased cooperation among individuals who otherwise rely primarily on reason, but not among individuals who already rely primarily on emotion. These findings suggest that individuals integrate their traits with emotion-based states by substituting their trait rather than enhancing it. Thus, who is affected by emotions in their decision to cooperate crucially depends on state-trait interactions at the point of decision.
    Keywords: cooperation; intuition; emotion; reason; experiment;
    JEL: C71 C91 D91
    Date: 2020–04–06
  10. By: John Higgins (Department of Economics, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA); Tarun Sabarwal (Department of Economics, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA)
    Abstract: We study proliferation of an action in a network coordination game that is generalized to include a tractable, model-based measure of virality to make it more realistic. We present new algorithms to compute contagion thresholds and equilibrium depth of contagion and prove their theoretical properties. These algorithms apply to arbitrary connected networks and starting sets, both with and without virality. Our algorithms are easy to implement and help to quantify relationships previously inaccessible due to computational intractability. Using these algorithms, we study the spread of contagion in scale-free networks with 1,000 players using millions of Monte Carlo simulations. Our results highlight channels through which contagion may spread in networks. Small starting sets lead to greater depth of contagion in less connected networks. Virality amplifies the effect of a larger starting set and may make full network contagion inevitable in cases where it would not occur otherwise. It also brings contagion dynamics closer to a type of singularity. Our model and analysis can be used to understand potential consequences of policies designed to control or spread contagion in networks.
    JEL: C62 C72
    Date: 2021–04
  11. By: Christopher Boudreaux; George Clarke; Anand Jha
    Abstract: How does an entrepreneur's social capital improve small informal business productivity? Although studies have investigated this relationship, we still know little about the underlying theoretical mechanisms driving these findings. Using a unique Zambian Business Survey of 1,971 entrepreneurs administered by the World Bank, we find an entrepreneur's social capital facilitates small business productivity through the mediating channels of firm financing and customer relationships. Our findings identify specific mechanisms that channel social capital toward an informal business' productivity, which prior studies have overlooked.
    Date: 2021–04
  12. By: Angelova, Vera (TU Berlin); Güth, Werner (MPI for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn); Kocher, Martin G. (University of Vienna)
    Abstract: We experimentally analyze leading by example in a public goods game with two permanent and two temporary group members. Our results show that leadership when permanent and temporary members interact leads to lower contributions than interaction without leadership.
    Keywords: cooperation; leadership; social dilemma; public goods provision; experiment;
    JEL: C91 D03 D64
    Date: 2019–11–27

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