nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2021‒06‒28
nine papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Never waste a “good” crisis! Priming the economic aspect of crises fosters social capital build-up and prosociality By Heap, Shaun Hargreaves; Koop, Christel; Matakos, Konstantinos; Unan, Asli; Weber, Nina Sophie
  2. Institutions, opportunism and prosocial behavior: Some experimental evidence By Cabrales, Antonio; Clots-Figueras, Irma; Hernán-González, Roberto; Kujal, Praveen
  3. More Opportunity, More Cooperation? The Behavioral Effects of Birthright Citizenship on Immigrant Youth By Christina Felfe; Martin G. Kocher; Helmut Rainer; Judith Saurer; Thomas Siedler
  4. The Seeds of Ideology: Historical Immigration and Political Preferences in the United States By Giuliano, Paola; Tabellini, Marco
  5. Group-identity and long-run cooperation: an experiment By Gabriele Camera; Lukas Hohl
  6. Happy to Help: The Welfare Effects of a Nationwide Micro-Volunteering Programme By Dolan, Paul; Krekel, Christian; Shreedhar, Ganga; Lee, Helen; Marshall, Claire; Smith, Allison
  7. Perceptions of Demotion Decisions: A Social Capital Perspective By Sophie Hennekam; Steve Mckenna; Julia Richardson; Subramaniam Ananthram
  8. Culture, Immigration and Tax Compliance By Antoine Malézieux; Benno Torgler
  9. A Local Community Course That Raises Wellbeing and Pro-sociality: Evidence from a Randomised Controlled Trial By Krekel, Christian; De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel; Fancourt, Daisy; Layard, Richard

  1. By: Heap, Shaun Hargreaves; Koop, Christel; Matakos, Konstantinos; Unan, Asli; Weber, Nina Sophie
    Abstract: Do crises make people more prosocial? And what role does communication play in promoting such attitudes and behavior? These answers matter for post-crisis economic recovery as social capital has been linked to growth. We leverage the incidence of Covid-19 --a multifaceted global crisis-- and using a representative panel of US residents, surveyed in April and October 2020, we explore how a) pandemic-induced economic and health anxiety map to prosocial inclinations and behavior, and b) whether communication (and what types) can foster social capital formation. We find that individual exposure to the economic and health consequences of the pandemic had no effect on prosocial inclinations and social capital; but perceived economic vulnerability reduced trust in government and respect for authority and increased preferences for redistribution. Yet information about the aggregate economic consequences of Covid-19 fosters social capital build-up (e.g., altruism, giving, patience) and prosocial preferences. In contrast, information about the health costs of the pandemic has the opposite effect; it greatly reduces interpersonal trust. These information effects also map into policy preferences beyond the Covid-19 crisis. Our findings are consistent with cultural accounts on the determinants of Americans' prosocial inclinations and preferences.
    Date: 2021–06–03
  2. By: Cabrales, Antonio; Clots-Figueras, Irma; Hernán-González, Roberto; Kujal, Praveen
    Abstract: Formal or informal institutions have long been adopted by societies to protect against opportunistic behavior. However, we know very little about how these institutions are chosen and their impact on behavior. We experimentally investigate the demand for different levels of institutions that provide low to high levels of insurance and its subsequent impact on prosocial behavior. We conduct a large-scale online experiment where we add the possibility of purchasing insurance to safeguard against low reciprocity to the standard trust game. We compare two different mechanisms, the private (purchase) and the social (voting) choice of institutions. Whether voted or purchased, we find that there is demand for institutions in low trustworthiness groups, while high trustworthiness groups always demand lower levels of institutions. Lower levels of institutions are demanded when those who can benefit from opportunistic behavior, i.e. low trustworthiness individuals, can also vote for them. Importantly, the presence of insurance crowds out civic spirit even when subjects can choose the no insurance option: trustworthiness when formal institutions are available is lower than in their absence.
    Keywords: institutions; Insurance; Trust; trustworthiness; voting
    JEL: C92 D02 D64
    Date: 2020–05
  3. By: Christina Felfe (University of Würzburg, CESifo); Martin G. Kocher (University of Vienna, IHS Vienna, University of Gothenburg); Helmut Rainer (University of Munich, ifo Institute, CESifo); Judith Saurer (University of Würzburg); Thomas Siedler (University of Potsdam, DIW Berlin, IZA)
    Abstract: Inequality of opportunity, particularly when overlaid with socioeconomic, ethnic, or cultural differences, may limit the scope of cooperation between individuals. A central question, then, is how to overcome such obstacles to cooperation. We study this question in the context of Germany, by asking whether the propensity of immigrant youth to cooperate with native peers was affected by a major integration reform: the introduction of birthright citizenship. Our unique setup exploits data from a large-scale lab-in-the-field experiment in a quasi-experimental evaluation framework. We find that the policy caused male, but not female, immigrants to significantly increase their cooperativeness toward natives. We show that the increase in out-group cooperation among immigrant boys is an outcome of more trust rather than a reflection of stronger other- regarding preferences towards natives. In exploring factors that may explain these behavioral effects, we present evidence that the policy also led to a near-closure of the educational achievement gap between young immigrant men and their native peers. Our results highlight that, through integration interventions, governments can modify prosocial behavior in a way that generates higher levels of efficiency in the interaction between social groups.
    JEL: C93 D90 J15 K37
    Date: 2021–06
  4. By: Giuliano, Paola; Tabellini, Marco
    Abstract: We test the relationship between historical immigration to the United States and political ideology today. We hypothesize that European immigrants brought with them their preferences for the welfare state, and that this had a long-lasting effect on the political ideology of US born individuals. Our analysis proceeds in three steps. First, we document that the historical presence of European immigrants is associated with a more liberal political ideology and with stronger preferences for redistribution among US born individuals today. Next, we show that this correlation is not driven by the characteristics of the counties where immigrants settled or other speci c, socioeconomic immigrants' traits. Finally, we provide evidence that immigrants brought with them their preferences for the welfare state from their countries of origin. Consistent with the hypothesis that immigration left its footprint on American ideology via cultural transmission from immigrants to natives, we show that our results are stronger when inter-group contact between natives and immigrants, measured with either intermarriage or residential integration, was higher. Our fi ndings also indicate that immigrants influenced American political ideology during one of the largest episodes of redistribution in US history--the New Deal-- and that such effects persisted after the initial shock.
    Keywords: cultural transmission; Immigration; Political Ideology; Preferences for Redistribution
    JEL: D64 D72 H2 J15 N32 Z1
    Date: 2020–05
  5. By: Gabriele Camera (Economic Science Institute, Chapman University and DSE, University of Bologna); Lukas Hohl (University of Basel)
    Abstract: We stress-test the limits of the power of group identity in the context of cooperation by constructing laboratory economies where participants confront an indefinitely repeated social dilemma as strangers. Group identity is artificially induced by ran-dom assignment to color-coded groups, and reinforced by an initial cooperation task played in-group and in fixed pairs. Subsequently subjects interact in-group and out-group in large economies, as strangers. Indefinite repetition guarantees full cooperation is an equilibrium. Decision-makers can discriminate based on group aÿliation, but cannot observe past behaviors. We find no evidence of group biases. This suggests that group e ects are less likely to emerge when players cannot easily observe and compare characteristics on which to base categorizations and behaviors.
    Keywords: large groups, indefinitely repeated game, social norms
    JEL: C70 C90 D03
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Dolan, Paul (London School of Economics); Krekel, Christian (London School of Economics); Shreedhar, Ganga (London School of Economics); Lee, Helen (National Health Service); Marshall, Claire (National Health Service); Smith, Allison (Royal Voluntary Service)
    Abstract: There is a strong suggestion from the existing literature that volunteering improves the wellbeing of those who give up their time to help others, but much of it is correlational and not causal. In this paper, we estimate the wellbeing benefits from volunteering for England's National Health Service (NHS) Volunteer Responders programme, which was set up in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Using a sample of over 9,000 volunteers, we exploit the oversubscription of the programme and the random assignment of volunteering tasks to estimate causal wellbeing returns, across multiple counterfactuals. We find that active volunteers report significantly higher life satisfaction, feelings of worthwhileness, social connectedness, and belonging to their local communities. A social welfare analysis shows that the benefits of the programme were at least 140 times greater than its costs. Our findings advance our understanding of the ways in which pro-social behaviours can improve personal wellbeing as well as social welfare.
    Keywords: subjective wellbeing, volunteering, pro-social action, quasi-natural experiment, social welfare analysis, COVID-19
    JEL: I31 I38 D61 D64
    Date: 2021–05
  7. By: Sophie Hennekam (Audencia Recherche - Audencia Business School); Steve Mckenna (CBS - Curtin Business School - Curtin University [Perth] - PATREC - Planning and Transport Research Centre); Julia Richardson (CBS - Curtin Business School - Curtin University [Perth] - PATREC - Planning and Transport Research Centre); Subramaniam Ananthram (CBS - Curtin Business School - Curtin University [Perth] - PATREC - Planning and Transport Research Centre)
    Abstract: This article examines how demotees and co-workers understand involuntary demotion decisions, using a social capital lens. Drawing on data based on semi-structured in-depth interviews from 23 demotees and 46 co-workers (two co-workers of each demoted worker), we find that the likelihood of being demoted is determined by several factors. The personal characteristics of the demotee influence three aspects of social capital: 1) the quality of the employee-management relationship, 2) the ability to socialise with other organizational members and 3) visibility in the organization. Our findings contribute to the relational embeddedness perspective of social capital as well the growing body of literature on the dark side of social capital in organizations by showing how a lack of social capital impacts on demotion decisions. Relevant implications for organizations and HR practitioners for utilizing demotion as a HR tool are discussed.
    Date: 2019–12
  8. By: Antoine Malézieux; Benno Torgler
    Abstract: Although understanding how multiculturalism shapes society is imperative in today's globalized world, insights on certain behavior domains remain limited, including those on tax compliance among domestic versus foreign taxpayers. Our meta-study of laboratory tax experiments analyzes over 50,000 tax declaration decisions by almost 5,000 subjects entailing 95 nationalities. Not only do immigrant participants exhibit signicantly less tax compliance than natives even with controls for numerous covariates, but tax compliance correlates positively with tax morale, which in turn also interacts signicantly with immigration status. Few variablesmainly linked to politicsinuenced the gap of compliance between natives and immigrants.
    Keywords: Tax evasion; Immigration; Meta-analysis
    JEL: C9 H0 H3
    Date: 2021–06
  9. By: Krekel, Christian (London School of Economics); De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel (University of Oxford); Fancourt, Daisy (University College London); Layard, Richard (London School of Economics)
    Abstract: Despite a wealth of research on its correlates, relatively little is known about how to effectively raise wellbeing in local communities by means of intervention. Can we teach people to live happier lives, cost-effectively and at scale? We conducted a randomised controlled trial of a scalable social-psychological intervention rooted in self-determination theory and aimed at raising the wellbeing and pro-sociality of the general adult population. The manualised course ("Exploring What Matters") is run by non-expert volunteers (laypeople) in their local communities and to date has been conducted in more than 26 countries around the world. We found that it has strong, positive causal effects on participants' subjective wellbeing and pro-sociality (compassion and social trust) while lowering measures of mental ill health. The impacts of the course are sustained for at least two months post-treatment. We compare treatment to other wellbeing interventions and discuss limitations and implications for intervention design, as well as implications for the use of wellbeing as an outcome for public policy more generally.
    Keywords: wellbeing, pro-social behaviour, communities, intervention, RCT
    JEL: C93 I12 I31
    Date: 2021–06

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