nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2021‒05‒17
twelve papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Trust and trustworthiness after negative random shocks By Hernán Bejarano; Joris Gillet; Ismael Rodríguez-Lara
  2. Faith no more? The divergence of political trust between urban and rural Europe By Mitsch, Frieder; Lee, Neil; Morrow, Elizabeth
  3. Exposure to the Covid-19 pandemic and generosity By Pablo Brañas-Garza; Diego Jorrat; Antonio Alfonso-Costillo; Antonio Espín; Teresa García; Kovárík Jaromír
  4. Immigration, Political Ideologies and the Polarization of American Politics By Dreher, Axel; Langlotz, Sarah; Matzat, Johannes; Mayda, Anna Maria; Parsons, Chris
  5. Hate Is Too Great a Burden to Bear: Hate Crimes and the Mental Health of Refugees By Daniel Graeber; Felicitas Schikora
  6. Female Genital Cutting and the Slave Trade By Corno, Lucia; La Ferrara, Eliana; Voena, Alessandra
  7. Social Distancing During a Pandemic - The Role of Friends By Bailey, Michael; Johnston, Drew; Koenen, Martin; Kuchler, Theresa; Russel, Dominic; Ströbel, Johannes
  8. Altruism born of suffering? The impact of an adverse health shock on pro-social behaviour By Black, Nicole; De Gruyter, Elaine; Petrie, Dennis; Smith, Sarah
  9. Local Global Watchdogs: Trade, Sourcing and the Internationalization of Social Activism By Pamina Koenig; Sebastian Krautheim; Claudius Löhnert; Thierry Verdier; Thierry Verdier
  10. The role of social interactions and strength of ties to increase labor participation among women with low education levels in Chile By Barbara Flores
  11. More than words: Leader’s speech and risky behavior during a pandemic By Nicolás Ajzenman; Tiago Cavalcanti; Daniel Da Mata
  12. Oops!... I Did It Again: Understanding Mechanisms of Persistence in Prosocial Behavior By Bruhin, Adrian; Goette, Lorenz; Haenni, Simon; Jiang, Lingqing

  1. By: Hernán Bejarano (Centro de Investigación y Docencia en Economía de México/Chapman University); Joris Gillet (Middlesex University); Ismael Rodríguez-Lara (Chapman University/Universidad de Granada)
    Abstract: We investigate experimentally the effect of a negative endowment shock in a trust game to assess whether different causes of inequality have different effects on trust and trustworthiness. In our trust game there may be inequality in favor of the second mover and this may (or may not) be the result of a negative random shock (i.e., the outcome of a die roll) that decreases the endowment of the first-mover. Our findings suggest that inequality leads to differences in behavior. First-movers send more of their endowment and second-movers return more when there is inequality. However, we do not find support for the hypothesisthat the cause of the inequality matters. Behavior after the occurrence of a random shock is not significantly different from the behavior when the inequality exists from the outset. Our results highlight that we have to be cautious when interpreting the effects on trust and trustworthiness of negative random shocks that occur in the field (e.g., natural disasters). Our results suggest that these effects are largely driven by the inequality caused by the shock and not by any of the additional characteristics of the shock like saliency or uncertainty.
    Keywords: Trust game endowment heterogeneity random shocks inequality aversion experimental economics
    JEL: C91 D02 D03 D69
    Date: 2021–04
  2. By: Mitsch, Frieder; Lee, Neil; Morrow, Elizabeth
    Abstract: Events such as Brexit and the Gilet Jaunes protests have highlighted the spatial nature of populism. In particular, there has been increasing political divergence between urban and rural areas, with rural areas apparently having lost faith in national governments. We investigate this divergence using data on over 125,000 from the European Social Survey from 2008-2018. We show that people in rural areas have lower political trust than urban or peri-urban residents, with this difference clear for six different forms of political institutions, including politicans, political parties, and national parliaments. There has been divergence of political trust between urban and rural Europe since 2008, although this is primarily driven by Southern Europe. While these results can be primarily explained by demographic differences between cities and the countryside, divergent economic experiences, differences in values and perspectives that public services are less effective outside of urban areas, there is a residual 'rural effect' beyond this. We argue that the polarization of urban-rural political trust has important implications for the functioning of political democracies.
    Keywords: political trust; urban-rural division; polarisation; European Social Survey
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2021–05
  3. By: Pablo Brañas-Garza (Universidad Loyola); Diego Jorrat (Universidad Loyola); Antonio Alfonso-Costillo (Universidad Pablo de Olavide); Antonio Espín (Universidad de Granada); Teresa García (Universidad de Granada); Kovárík Jaromír (Universidad del País Vasco)
    Abstract: We report data from an online experiment, which allow us to study whether generosity has changed during the early Covid-19 pandemic. We have gathered data from Spanish participants over a six-day period in which Covid-19-associated deaths in Spain, one of the most affected countries, increased fourfold. In our experiment, participants could donate a fraction of a €100 prize to a charity. Our data are particularly rich in the age distribution and we complement them with daily public information about the Covid-19-related deaths, infections, and hospital admissions. We find that donations decreased in the period under study and scale down with the public information about the life and health impact of the pandemic. The effect is particularly pronounced among older subjects. Our analysis of the mechanisms behind the detected decrease in solidarity highlights the key—but independent—role of expectations about others’ behavior, perceived mortality risk, and (alarming) information in behavioral adaptation.
    Keywords: Generosity Covid-19 Experiments Social Preferences
    Date: 2021–04
  4. By: Dreher, Axel; Langlotz, Sarah; Matzat, Johannes; Mayda, Anna Maria; Parsons, Chris
    Abstract: We study the extent to which migrant inflows to the United States affect the political polarization of campaign donors and the ideology of politicians campaigning for the House of Representatives in the 1992-2016 period. Implementing various polarization measures based on ideology data derived from 16 million campaign finance contributors, our results show that migrant inflows causally increase the polarization of both campaign donations and leading political candidates. Our estimates hold over the medium-run, although the effects decline over time. The effects of migration are stronger if counties host migrants from more distant cultures, or if incoming migrants are similarly educated. Our main results hold when we focus on refugees as opposed to all immigrants on aggregate.
    Keywords: migration; Polarization; Political Ideology; Refugees; United States
    JEL: F52 F63 J15
    Date: 2020–12
  5. By: Daniel Graeber; Felicitas Schikora
    Abstract: Against a background of increasing violence against non-natives, we estimate the effect of hate crime on refugees’ mental health in Germany. For this purpose, we combine two datasets: administrative records on xenophobic crime against refugee shelters by the Federal Criminal Office and the IAB-BAMF-SOEP Survey of Refugees. We apply a regression discontinuity design in time to estimate the effect of interest. Our results indicate that hate crime has a substantial negative effect on several mental health indicators, including the Mental Component Summary score and the Patient Health Questionnaire-4 score. The effects are stronger for refugees with closer geographic proximity to the focal hate crime and refugees with low country-specific human capital. While the estimated effect is only transitory, we argue that negative mental health shocks during the critical period after arrival have important long-term consequences.
    Keywords: Mental health, hate crime, migration, refugees, human capital
    JEL: I10 J15 J24 F22 O15
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Corno, Lucia; La Ferrara, Eliana; Voena, Alessandra
    Abstract: We investigate the historical origins of female genital cutting (FGC), a harmful practice widespread across Africa. We test the hypothesis --substantiated by historical sources-- that FGC was connected to the Red Sea slave trade route, where women were sold as concubines in the Middle East and infibulation was used to ensure chastity. We hypothesize that differential exposure of ethnic groups to the Red Sea route determined differential adoption of the practice. Combining individual level data from 28 African countries with novel historical data on slaves' shipments by country, ethnic group and trade routes from 1400 to 1900. We find that women belonging to ethnic groups whose ancestors were exposed to the Red Sea route are more likely to be infibulated or circumcised today and are more in favor of continuing the practice. The estimated effects are very similar when slave exports are instrumented by distance to the North-Eastern African coast. Finally, the effect is smaller for ethnic groups that historically freely permitted premarital sex -- a proxy for low demand for chastity.
    Keywords: female genital cutting; FGC; FGM; Gender norms; Slave trade
    JEL: N37 O15
    Date: 2020–12
  7. By: Bailey, Michael; Johnston, Drew; Koenen, Martin; Kuchler, Theresa; Russel, Dominic; Ströbel, Johannes
    Abstract: We explore how social network exposure to COVID-19 cases shapes individuals' social distancing behavior during the early months of the ongoing pandemic. We work with de-identified data from Facebook to show that U.S. users whose friends live in areas with worse coronavirus outbreaks reduce their mobility more than otherwise similar users whose friends live in areas with smaller outbreaks. The effects are quantitatively large: a one standard deviation increase in friend-exposure to COVID-19 cases early in the pandemic results in a 1.2 percentage point increase in the probability that an individual stays home on a given day. As the pandemic progresses, changes in friend-exposure drive changes in social distancing behavior. Given the evolving nature and geography of the pandemic --- and hence friend-exposure --- these results rule out many alternative explanations for the observed relationships. We also analyze data on public posts and membership in groups advocating to "reopen" the economy to show that our findings can be explained by friend-exposure raising awareness about the risks of the disease and inducing individuals to participate in mitigating public health behavior.
    Keywords: COVID-19; peer effects; Social distancing; Social Networks
    JEL: I0
    Date: 2020–12
  8. By: Black, Nicole; De Gruyter, Elaine; Petrie, Dennis; Smith, Sarah
    Abstract: 'Altruism born of suffering' (ABS) predicts that, following an adverse life event such as a health shock, individuals may become motivated to act pro-socially. However, this has not yet been examined systematically. Using data from the United States Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we find that a health shock does not lead to a general increase in pro-social behaviour. Instead, ABS is akin to a specific shock that affects giving to health charities, with an increase in the probability of giving and amounts donated to health charities coming at the expense of other non-religious charities.
    JEL: D64 H41 I12
    Date: 2020–12
  9. By: Pamina Koenig; Sebastian Krautheim; Claudius Löhnert; Thierry Verdier; Thierry Verdier
    Abstract: NGO campaigns against firms with value chains involving production in developing and emerging economies are a salient feature of economic globalization. What determines the patterns of the internationalization of NGO campaigns? Stylized facts obtained from recently available data containing 102 532 campaigns by 4 343 NGOs targeting 11 429 firms from 145 countries guide our theoretical analysis. We propose a model of global sourcing and international trade in which heterogeneous NGOs campaign against heterogeneous firms in response to infringements along their international value chains. We find that campaigns are determined by a triadic gravity equation, i.e. bilateral trade costs between the country of the NGO, the country of the firm and the sourcing country affect campaigns. Most notably, the latter implies that by advancing the internationalization of production, falling trade costs boost the internationalization of NGO campaigns. We use our data to estimate the NGO level triadic gravity equation implied by our model and find strong support for our predictions.
    Keywords: international trade, international sourcing, gravity, NGOs, campaigns, social activism
    JEL: F12 F14 F60 L31 O35
    Date: 2021
  10. By: Barbara Flores
    Abstract: This article studies cultural factors that could explain the low rates of female labor force participation (FLP) observed in Chile. In particular, the aim of this study is to quantify the causal effect of social interactions among female neighbors on women’s individual decision regarding whether to participate or not in the labor market. To do so, I follow the literature on discrete choice with social interactions and expand a standard model of FLP by including the labor choices of other women living in the same neighborhood. In order to identify the causal effect, I exploit the geographical location of households by constructing a unique dataset that merges the FLP rates at the census zone level from the Chilean Census to the surveyed women in the Chilean Longitudinal Social Study (ELSOC) in 2017. I use the FLP rate of adjacent census zones as an instrument for the FLP rate of female neighbors living in the same census zone. To analyze the heterogeneity of the effect, an index of the strength of the ties within neighbors is constructed and the model is estimated for women with weak and strong ties within the neighborhood, separately. The results indicate the presence of significant and positive social effects only for low-skilled women who have weak ties within the neighborhood of residence. This is consistent with the theory of social ties, as weak ties act as a bridge between low-skilled women and both new information and social networks that could be relevant to participate in the labor market. These results are relevant as the existence of this social effect implies a social multiplier that can be used for policy to expand the effect of programs of small scale.
    Date: 2021–04
  11. By: Nicolás Ajzenman (Sao Paulo School of Economics - FGV); Tiago Cavalcanti (University of Cambridge/CEPR/Sao Paulo School of Economics); Daniel Da Mata (Sao Paulo School of Economics - FGV)
    Abstract: How do political leader’s words and actions affect people’s behavior? We address this question in the context of Brazil by combining electoral information and geo-localized mobile phone data for more than 60 million devices throughout the entire country. We find that after Brazil’s president publicly and emphatically dismissed the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and advised against isolation, the social distancing measures taken by citizens in pro-government localities weakened compared to places where political support of the president is less strong, while pre-event effects are insignificant. The impact is large and robust to different empirical model specifications. Moreover, we find suggestive evidence that this impact is driven by localities with relatively higher levels of media penetration and is stronger in municipalities with a larger proportion of Evangelic parishioners, a key group in terms of support for the president.
    Keywords: Health Coronavirus Leadership Persuasion Risky Behavior
    JEL: D1 I31 Z13
    Date: 2021–03
  12. By: Bruhin, Adrian; Goette, Lorenz; Haenni, Simon; Jiang, Lingqing
    Abstract: We test whether asking individuals to donate blood leads to a persistent change in prosocial behavior, and what the underlying mechanisms are. In a large-scale field experiment, we randomize asking blood donors to turn out, and follow them over up to 18 months. We observe significant behavioral persistence over at least one year. We use naturally occurring rainfall as a second instrument for donor turnout to test whether persistence is due to habit formation (Stigler and Becker, 1977) or a persistent increase in motivation independent of past donation. Our results strongly favor habit formation as the underlying mechanism.
    Keywords: field experiment; Habit formation; Natural Experiment; prosocial behavior
    Date: 2021–01

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.