nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2021‒06‒21
thirteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Calamities, Common Interests, Shared Identity: What Shapes Altruism and Reciprocity? By Cevat Giray Aksoy; Antonio Cabrales; Mathias Dolls; Ruben Durante; Lisa Windsteiger
  2. The scars of the Eelam War: Eroded trust, heightened ethnic identity, and political legacies in north-eastern Sri Lanka By Jia LI; Takahiro ITO; Ramila USOOF-THOWFEEK; Koji YAMAZAKI
  3. Social Media and Xenophobia: Evidence from Russia By Bursztyn, Leonardo; Egorov, Georgy; Enikolopov, Ruben; Petrova, Maria
  4. Political efficacy and participation: An empirical analysis in European countries By Mariana Prats; Axel Meunier
  5. Conformism, Social Segregation and Cultural Assimilation By Francesco Flaviano Russo
  6. The roots of cooperation By Zvonimir Bašić; Parampreet C. Bindra; Daniela Glätzle-Rützler; Angelo Romano; Matthias Sutter; Claudia Zoller
  7. Confidence in public institutions is critical in containing the COVID-19 pandemic By Anna Adamecz-Völgyi; Ágnes Szabó-Morvai
  8. Civic Capital and Social Distancing during the Covid-19 Pandemic By Barrios, John; Benmelech, Efraim; Hochberg, Yael; Sapienza, Paola; Zingales, Luigi
  9. The role of trust and of poverty in compliance with social distancing measures in Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic By Edson Mazive; Gerson Baza; Gimelgo Xirinda; Ivan Manhique; Jorge Mouco; Silvestre Matola
  10. A Matter of Trust? Political Trust and the Covid-19 Pandemic By Mohammad Reza Farzanegan; Hans Philipp Hofmann
  11. Bioelectrical brain activity can predict prosocial behavior By Mikhail Kunavin; Tatiana Kozitsina; Mikhail Myagkov; Irina Kozhevnikova; Mikhail Pankov; Ludmila Sokolova
  12. The Behavioural Mechanisms of Voluntary Cooperation in WEIRD and Non-WEIRD Societies By Till O. Weber; Benjamin Beranek; Simon Gaechter; Fatima Lambarraa-Lehnhardt; Jonathan F. Schulz
  13. Social Norms and Gender-Typical Occupational Choices By Patricia Palffy; Patrick Lehnert; Uschi Backes-Gellner

  1. By: Cevat Giray Aksoy; Antonio Cabrales; Mathias Dolls; Ruben Durante; Lisa Windsteiger
    Abstract: We conduct a large-scale survey experiment in nine European countries to study how priming a major crisis (COVID-19), common economic interests, and a shared identity influences altruism, reciprocity and trust of EU citizens. We find that priming the COVID-19 pandemic increases altruism and reciprocity towards compatriots, citizens of other EU countries, and non-EU citizens. Priming common European values also boosts altruism and reciprocity but only towards compatriots and fellow Europeans. Priming common economic interests has no tangible impact on behaviour. Trust in others is not affected by any treatment. Our results are consistent with the parochial altruism hypothesis, which asserts that because altruism arises out of inter-group conflict, humans show a tendency to favor members of their own groups.
    Keywords: Covid-19, Europe, altruism, reciprocity, survey experiment
    JEL: D72 H51 H53 H55 O52 P52
    Date: 2021
  2. By: Jia LI (Lecturer, Business School, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology); Takahiro ITO (Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Kobe University); Ramila USOOF-THOWFEEK (Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Peradeniya); Koji YAMAZAKI (Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Kobe University)
    Abstract: This study explores the influence of the protracted 1983-2009 Sri Lankan civilconflict on social and political outcomes using original household survey data. Our regression analysis compares outcome variables of survey respondents who suffered from different degrees and types of war victimization during the civil conflict. By differentiating individual- and household-level war exposure, voluntary and involuntary military service experience, and family loss of soldiers and civilians, we evaluate the influence of a wide array of war-time experience on outcomes, like trust, ethnic identification, and political participation. We find that civil conflict undermined political trust, heightened inter- as well as intra-ethnic divisions, and left different political legacies among the Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka. Future policy interventions may need to target different groups of people in different ways based on their victimization and experience during the conflict.
    Keywords: civil conflict, trust, political participation, ethnic identification, Sri Lanka
    Date: 2021–03
  3. By: Bursztyn, Leonardo; Egorov, Georgy; Enikolopov, Ruben; Petrova, Maria
    Abstract: We study the causal effect of social media on ethnic hate crimes and xenophobic attitudes in Rus- sia and the mechanisms underlying this effect, using quasi-exogenous variation in social media penetration across cities. Higher penetration of social media led to more hate crimes in cities with a high pre-existing level of nationalist sentiment. Consistent with a mechanism of coordination of crimes, the effects are stronger for crimes with multiple perpetrators. Using a national survey experiment, we also find evidence of a mechanism of persuasion: social media led individuals (especially young, male, and less-educated ones) to hold more xenophobic attitudes.
    Keywords: Hate crime; Russia; social media; Xenophobia
    JEL: D7 H0 J15
    Date: 2020–06
  4. By: Mariana Prats; Axel Meunier
    Abstract: The active participation of citizens is the lifeblood of any functioning democracy. But what drives people’s willingness to participate in political life? A key driver is their self-perception of their ability to understand political processes and to influence change through their action. These attitudes also determine people’s level of trust in government, making it a cornerstone of research and work on trust. In a context of increasing concerns regarding democratic legitimacy and decreasing levels of political participation, this paper aims to analyse empirically to what extent people’s attitudes towards their ability to influence and engage in political life – or their “political efficacy” - affect their political behaviour, including different forms of participation. A better understanding of political attitudes can help governments anticipate democratic deficits and develop strategies to improve political efficacy and promote participation.
    Keywords: civic participation, democracy, political participation, pubilc participation, trust
    Date: 2021–06–16
  5. By: Francesco Flaviano Russo (Università di Napoli Federico II and CSEF)
    Abstract: I develop and calibrate a model for the joint determination of cultural assimilation and social segregation of a minority. Culture evolves as a consequence of a disutility from non-conformism in social matchings, while social networks form endogenously as a result of exclusion of individuals with different beliefs and norms of behavior. The model delivers idiosyncratic assimilation patterns and the persistence of some cultural traits. I propose two measures of cultural assimilation, one for spatial comparisons and a second to assess assimilation over time. The model implies that cultural assimilation is weaker in pluralistic and denser societies, and it is not influenced by the minority share. Social segregation increases with social density and with the minority share, and it is higher for culturally more distant minorities. I compute both assimilation measures for a cross-section of European countries and show that the model is able to match the empirical evidence on assimilation.
    Keywords: Culture, Distance, Evolution.
    JEL: J15 Z10
    Date: 2021–06–08
  6. By: Zvonimir Bašić; Parampreet C. Bindra; Daniela Glätzle-Rützler; Angelo Romano; Matthias Sutter; Claudia Zoller
    Abstract: Understanding the roots of human cooperation among strangers is of great importance for solving pressing social dilemmas and maintening public goods in human societies. We study the development of cooperation in 929 young children, aged 3 to 6. In a unified experimental framework, we examine which of three fundamental pillars of human cooperation - direct and indirect reciprocity as well as third-party punishment - emerges earliest as an effective means to increase cooperation in a repeated prisoner's dilemma game. We find that third-party punishment exhibits a strikingly positive effect on cooperation rates by doubling them in comparison to a control condition. It promotes cooperative behavior even before punishment of defectors is applied. Children also engage in reciprocating others, showing that reciprocity strategies are already prevalent at a very young age. However, direct and indirect reciprocity treatments do not increase overall cooperation rates, as young children fail to anticipate the benefits of reputation building. We also show that the cognitive skills of children and the socioeconomic background of parents play a vital role in the early development of human cooperation.
    Keywords: Cooperation, reciprocity, third-party punishment, reputation, children, parents, cognitive abilities, socioeconomic status, prisoner's dilemma game, experiment
    JEL: C91 C93 D01 D91 H41
    Date: 2021
  7. By: Anna Adamecz-Völgyi (Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies (KRTK KRTI), Toth Kalman u. 4, 1097 Budapest andUCL Social Research Institute, University College London, 27 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AA); Ágnes Szabó-Morvai (Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies (KRTK KRTI), Toth Kalman u. 4, 1097 Budapest and University of Debrecen, Faculty of Economics and Business, Boszormenyi ut 138. 4032 Debrecen)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the relative importance of confidence in public institutions in explaining cross-country differences in the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. We extend the related literature by employing regression and machine learning methods to identify the most critical predictors of deaths attributed to the pandemic. We find that a one standard deviation increase (e.g., the actual difference between the US and Finland) in confidence is associated with 350.9 (95% CI -531.922 - -169.831, p=0.000) fewer predicted deaths per million inhabitants. Confidence in public institutions is one of the most important predictors of deaths attributed to COVID-19, compared to country-level measures of individual health risks, the health system, demographics, economic and political development, and social capital. Our results suggest that effective policy implementation requires citizens to cooperate with their governments, and willingness to cooperate relies on confidence in public institutions.
    Keywords: COVID-19, death rate, confidence in institutions, machine learning
    JEL: I18 P16
    Date: 2021–06
  8. By: Barrios, John; Benmelech, Efraim; Hochberg, Yael; Sapienza, Paola; Zingales, Luigi
    Abstract: The success of non-pharmaceutical interventions to contain pandemics often depends greatly upon voluntary compliance with government guidelines. What explains variation in voluntary compliance? Using mobile phone and survey data, we show that during the early phases of COVID-19, voluntary social distancing was higher when individuals exhibit a higher sense of civic duty. This is true for U.S. individuals, U.S. counties, and European regions. We also show that after U.S. states began re-opening, social distancing remained more prevalent in high civic capital counties. Our evidence points to the importance of civic capital in designing public policy responses to pandemics.
    Keywords: Civic capital; COVID; voluntary compliance
    JEL: K42 P16 Z1
    Date: 2020–06
  9. By: Edson Mazive; Gerson Baza; Gimelgo Xirinda; Ivan Manhique; Jorge Mouco; Silvestre Matola
    Abstract: Since it began, the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed a number of challenges on Africa and the rest of the world. Following the recommendations of the World Health Organization, many countries imposed social distancing measures and cancelled non-essential activities in order to contain the spread of the virus, reduce the infection rate, and ease the pressure on the health system.
    Keywords: COVID-19, Trust, Africa, Pandemic, Lockdown
    Date: 2021
  10. By: Mohammad Reza Farzanegan; Hans Philipp Hofmann
    Abstract: There is significant cross-country variation in Covid-19 fatalities worldwide. In this study, we analyze the relationship between political trust and fatalities of the Covid-19 pandemic. By performing a cross-country analysis and controlling for other determinants, we find that government trust is negatively associated with Covid-19 cases and deaths. Additionally, our findings suggest that risk communication, in the form of public information campaigns, only decreased Covid-19 cases and deaths in countries with high trust in government. We also find evidence that political trust decreases the risk of removing lockdown policies.
    Keywords: Covid-19, pandemic, trust, lockdown, cross-country regression, voluntary compliance
    JEL: I12 I18
    Date: 2021
  11. By: Mikhail Kunavin (Babkina); Tatiana Kozitsina (Babkina); Mikhail Myagkov; Irina Kozhevnikova; Mikhail Pankov; Ludmila Sokolova
    Abstract: Generally, people behave in social dilemmas such as proself and prosocial. However, inside social groups, people have a tendency to choose prosocial alternatives due to in-group favoritism. The bioelectrical activity of the human brain shows the differences between proself and prosocial exist even out of a socialized group. Moreover, a group socialization strengthens these differences. We used EEG System, "Neuron-Spectrum-4/EPM" (16 channels), to track the brain bioelectrical activity during decision making in laboratory experiments with the Prisoner's dilemma game and the short-term socialization stage. We compared the spatial distribution of the spectral density during the different experimental parts. The noncooperative decision was characterized by the increased values of spectral the beta rhythm in the orbital regions of prefrontal cortex. The cooperative choice, on the contrary, was accompanied by the theta-rhythm activation in the central cortex regions in both hemispheres and the high-frequency alpha rhythm in the medial regions of the prefrontal cortex. People who increased the cooperation level after the socialization stage was initially different from the ones who decreased the cooperation in terms of the bioelectrical activity. Well-socialized participants differed by increased values of spectral density of theta-diapason and decreased values of spectral density of beta-diapason in the middle part of frontal lobe. People who decreased the cooperation level after the socialization stage was characterized by decreased values of spectral density of alpha rhythm in the middle and posterior convex regions of both hemispheres.
    Date: 2021–05
  12. By: Till O. Weber (University of Newcastle); Benjamin Beranek (Missouri State University); Simon Gaechter (University of Nottingham); Fatima Lambarraa-Lehnhardt (IZA, CESifo, ZALF, University of Goettingen); Jonathan F. Schulz (George Mason University)
    Abstract: We provide a framework to uncover behavioural mechanisms driving potential cross-societal differences in voluntary cooperation. We deploy our framework in one-shot public goods experiments in the US and the UK, and in Morocco and Turkey. We find that cooperation is higher in the US and UK than in Morocco and Turkey. Our framework shows that this result is driven mostly by differences in beliefs rather than in cooperative preferences, or peer punishment, which are both similar in the four subject pools. Our results highlight the central role of beliefs in explaining differences in voluntary cooperation within and across societies.
    Keywords: voluntary cooperation, experiments, public goods, cross-societal differences, behavioural framework
    Date: 2021–03
  13. By: Patricia Palffy; Patrick Lehnert; Uschi Backes-Gellner
    Abstract: The authors analyze the relationship between social gender norms and the occupational choices of adolescents by combining information about regional votes on a constitutional amendment on gender equality with job application data from a large job board for vocational education and training apprenticeships. Results show that adolescent males in regions with stronger traditional social gender norms are significantly more likely to apply for gender-typical occupations. This finding does not hold for adolescent females, suggesting that males align their occupational choices more strongly with social gender norms than females. Additional analyses reveal that the social gender norms in a region are related to the costs that adolescents living in this region are willing to bear for commuting to a firm where they receive apprenticeship training in either a gender-typical or gender-atypical occupation. The results underscore the importance of policies that factor in social gender norms and encourage not only adolescent females, but also adolescent males to make non-traditional occupational choices.
    Keywords: social norms, occupational choice, gender typicality, occupational gender segregation
    JEL: J24 J16 I24 M59
    Date: 2021–06

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.