nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2021‒11‒08
ten papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Early life adversity is associated with diminished social trust in adults By Hugo Mell; Lou Safra; Perrine Demange; Yann Algan; Nicolas Baumard; Coralie Chevallier
  2. Religion and Tradition in Conflict Experimentally Testing the Power of Social Norms to Invalidate Religious Law By Christoph Engel; Klaus Heine; Shaheen Naseer
  3. Nudging Enforcers: How Norm Perceptions and Motives for Lying Shape Sanctions By Eugen Dimant; Tobias Gesche
  4. Ethnicity and risk sharing network formation: Evidence from rural Viet Nam By Quynh Hoang; Camille Saint Macary; Laure Pasquier-Doumer
  5. The social consequences of the increase in refugees to Germany 2015-2016 By Giesselmann, Marco; Brady, David; Naujoks, Tabea
  6. The Roots of Cooperation By Zvonimir Bašic; Parampreet C. Bindra; Daniela Glätzle-Rützler; Angelo Romano; Matthias Sutter; Claudia Zoller
  7. What Makes a Classmate a Peer?Examining Which Peers Matter in NYC Elementary Schools Abstract By William C. Horrace; Hyunseok Jung; Jonathan L. Pressler; Amy Ellen Schwartz
  8. Alone and Lonely. The economic cost of solitude for regions in Europe By Chiara Burlina; Andres Rodriguez-Pose;
  9. Why do Social Nudges Actually Work? Theoretical and Experimental Elements from a Randomized Controlled Trial with Bordeaux Winegrowers By Yann Raineau; Éric GIRAUD-HÉRAUD
  10. Altruistic Care for the Elderly: A Gender Perspective By Minh Tam Bui; Ivo Vlaev

  1. By: Hugo Mell (ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres); Lou Safra (ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres); Perrine Demange (VU - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam [Amsterdam]); Yann Algan (ECON - Département d'économie (Sciences Po) - Sciences Po - Sciences Po - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CEPREMAP - Centre pour la recherche économique et ses applications - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres); Nicolas Baumard (ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres); Coralie Chevallier (ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres)
    Abstract: Social trust is at the center of democratic societies but it varies considerably between individuals and societies, which deeply affects a range of prosocial behaviours. Socioeconomic status has been identified as an important predictor of such variability. Although this association has mostly been reported for measures of socioeconomic status taken in adulthood, recent studies have found unique effects of harsh conditions experienced during childhood on social trust assessed decades later. Here, we report a series of three studies that provide further support for the long-lasting association between early childhood conditions and social trust. The first study revealed that higher childhood socioeconomic status was associated with greater social trust in a diverse sample of French participants (N=915), even after adjusting for current socioeconomic status. The second study replicated this result using data from the European Values Study, an independent large-scale survey of 46 European countries (N=66,281). Finally, the last study found a similar association between socioeconomic status and willingness to invest in a trust game (N=60 in original study, N=75 in replication study).
    Date: 2020–03–01
  2. By: Christoph Engel (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods); Klaus Heine (Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Erasmus School of Law); Shaheen Naseer (Lahore School of Economics)
    Abstract: Often, religion, law and tradition co-evolve. Religious precepts shape social practice, which translates into law. Yet this harmony is not universal. The Sharia guarantees daughters their share in the family estate. Yet in Pakistan, this rule clashes with tradition. While the country was jointly governed with (mainly Hindu) India, it had been customary that the entire estate goes to the eldest son. Combining a survey with a lab in the field experiment, we show that this is still the descriptive and the injunctive norm. Yet participants have a strong preference for the conflict to be dissolved by legislative intervention.
    Keywords: religious norm, legal rule, descriptive and injunctive social norm, inheritance, gender discrimination, Sharia, experiment
    JEL: C91 C93 D01 D15 D31 D63 J16 K00 O12 O53 R22
    Date: 2021–05–10
  3. By: Eugen Dimant; Tobias Gesche
    Abstract: The enforcement of social norms is the fabric of a functioning society. Through the lens of mul-tiple studies using different methodologies (a behavioral experiment and a vignette experiment in Study 1, as well as a norm elicitation experiment in Study 2), we examine how motives for lying and norm perceptions steer norm enforcement. Pursuing a pre-registered three-part data collection effort, our study investigates the extent to which norm breaches are sanctioned, how norm-nudges affect punishment behavior, and how enforcement links to norm perceptions. Using a representative sample of U.S. participants, we provide robust evidence that norm-enforcement is not only sensitive to the magnitude of the observed transgression (= size of the lie) but also to the consequence of the transgression (= whether the lie remedies or creates payoff inequalities). We also find that norm enforcers are sensitive to different norm-nudges that convey social in-formation about actual lying behavior or its social disapproval. Importantly, these results hold both in the behavioral experiment and in an add-on vignette study that confirm the robustness of our findings in the context of whistleblowing. To explain the punishment patterns of the behavioral experiment in Study 1, we subsequently examine how norms are perceived across dif-ferent transgressions and how norm-nudges change these perceptions. We find that social norm perceptions are malleable: norm-nudges are most effective when preexisting norms are vague. Importantly, we find that punishment patterns in the first experiment closely follow these norm perceptions. With that, our findings suggest that norm enforcement can be nudged successfully.
    Keywords: lying, norm-nudges, nudging, punishment, social norms
    JEL: B41 D01 D90
    Date: 2021
  4. By: Quynh Hoang (DIAL - Développement, institutions et analyses de long terme, IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement); Camille Saint Macary (DIAL - Développement, institutions et analyses de long terme, LEDa - Laboratoire d'Economie de Dauphine - IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - Université Paris Dauphine-PSL - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement); Laure Pasquier-Doumer (DIAL - Développement, institutions et analyses de long terme, LEDa - Laboratoire d'Economie de Dauphine - IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - Université Paris Dauphine-PSL - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement)
    Abstract: Ethnic inequality remains a persistent challenge for Viet Nam. This paper aims at better understanding this ethnic gap through exploring the formation of risk sharing networks in rural areas. It first investigates the differences in risk sharing networks between the ethnic minorities and the Kinh majority, in terms of size and similarity attributes of the networks. Second, it relies on the concept of ethnic homophily in link formation to explain the mechanisms leading to those differences. In particular, it disentangles the effect of demographic and local distribution of ethnic groups on risk-sharing network formation from cultural and social distance between ethnic groups, while controlling for the disparities in the geographical environment. Results show that ethnic minorities have smaller and less diversified networks than the majority. This is partly explained by differences in wealth and in the geographical environment. But ethnicity also plays a direct role in risk-sharing network formation through the combination of preferences to form a link with people from the same ethnic group (in breeding homophily) and the relative size of ethnic groups conditioning the opportunities to form a link (baseline homophily). In breeding homophily is found to be stronger among the Kinh majority, leading to the exclusion of ethnic minorities from Kinh networks, which are supposed to be more efficient to cope with covariant risk because they are more diversified in the occupation and location of their members. This evidence suggests that inequalities among ethnic groups in Viet Nam are partly rooted in the cultural and social distances between them.
    Abstract: Les inégalités inter-ethniques demeurent un problème préoccupant au Viet Nam. Dans cet article, nous cherchons à mieux comprendre l'origine de ce phénomène en explorant la formation de réseaux de solidarité dans les zones rurales. Nous examinons d'abord quelles sont les différences de composition de ces réseaux entre les minorités ethniques et la majorité Kinh. Nous montrons que les minorités ethniques ont des réseaux plus petits et moins diversifiés que la majorité. Nous explorons ensuite les mécanismes à l'origine de ces différences, en nous appuyant sur le concept d'homophilie. Plus précisément, nous distinguons l'effet de la répartition démographique et locale des groupes ethniques de l'effet de la distance culturelle et sociale entre groupes ethniques, ou autrement dit des préférences à former un lien avec des personnes du même groupe ethnique. Nous montrons que les différences de composition des réseaux de solidarité s'expliquent en partie par les écarts de richesse entre les groupes ethniques et des 2 environnements géographiques différents. Mais l'ethnicité joue toutefois un rôle direct dans la formation de ces réseaux à travers un effet combiné de préférences à se lier avec des personnes de la même ethnie et de composition démographique différenciées selon les groupes ethniques. Les préférences à se lier avec des personnes du même groupe ethnique sont plus fortes chez les Kinh majoritaires, ce qui entraîne l'exclusion des minorités ethniques des réseaux Kinh, supposés être plus efficaces pour faire face à des risques covariants car ils sont plus diversifiés dans l'occupation et la localisation de leurs membres. Ces résultats suggèrent que les inégalités entre les groupes ethniques au Viet Nam sont en partie enracinées dans les distances culturelles et sociales qui les séparent.
    Keywords: Réseau de solidarité,homophilie,inégalités inter-ethniques,homophily,ethnic gap,Viet Nam,Risk-sharing network,Vietnam
    Date: 2021–10–01
  5. By: Giesselmann, Marco; Brady, David; Naujoks, Tabea
    Abstract: More than one million refugees migrated to Germany in 2015-2016. The increase in refugees was rapid, visible and controversial, and varied substantially across German districts. Therefore, the increase provides unique leverage for analyzing the consequences of immigration and ethnolinguistic heterogeneity. We innovatively focus on within-district/within-person change with individual-level panel data and precise measures of district-level refugee shares. Using the German Socio-Economic Panel 2009-2017, we analyze three-way (person, year and district) fixed effects models of five exclusionary beliefs and behaviors. At the national level, concerns about immigration and social cohesion and strong far right party support increased at the same time as refugee shares increased. However, district-level refugee shares are robustly negatively associated with concerns about immigration and (less robustly) with strong far right party support. They are also not associated with concerns about social cohesion, residential moves, or subjective fair tax rates. Interaction estimators reveal that where unemployment is high, there are positive relationships between refugee shares and concerns about immigration and residential moves. Aside from high unemployment districts however, the results mostly support contact theory, and contradict fractionalization and minority threat theories. Overall, rising district-level refugee shares reduced or at least did not heighten exclusionary beliefs and behaviors.
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Zvonimir Bašic (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods); Parampreet C. Bindra (University of Innsbruck); Daniela Glätzle-Rützler (University of Innsbruck); Angelo Romano (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods); Matthias Sutter (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, University of Cologne, University of Innsbruck, IZA Bonn, and CESifo Munich); Claudia Zoller (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods)
    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: 2021–06–11
  7. By: William C. Horrace (Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University, 426 Eggers Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244); Hyunseok Jung (University of Arkansas); Jonathan L. Pressler (Saint Louis University); Amy Ellen Schwartz (Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University, 426 Eggers Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244)
    Abstract: We identify and estimate the effects of student-level social spillovers on standardized test performance in New York City (NYC) elementary schools. We leverage student demographic data to construct within classroom social networks based on shared student characteristics, such as a gender or ethnicity. Rather than aggregate shared characteristics into a single network matrix, we specify additively separate network matrices for each shared characteristic and estimate city-wide peer effects for each one. Conditional on sharing a classroom, we find that the most important student peer effects are shared ethnicity, gender, and primary language spoken at home. Identification of the model is discussed.
    Keywords: Peer Effect, Network, Homophily, Education
    JEL: C31 I21
    Date: 2021–11
  8. By: Chiara Burlina; Andres Rodriguez-Pose;
    Abstract: Solitude is a rising phenomenon in the western world. The number of people affected by solitude has been rising for some time and the Covid-19 pandemic has brought this trend to the fore. Yet, we know next to nothing about the aggregate subnational economic consequences of the rise in solitude. In this paper we analyse the consequences of solitude on regional economic performance across Europe, distinguishing between two of its key dimensions: alone living, proxied by the regional share of the population in one-person households; and loneliness, proxied by the aggregate share of social interactions. We find that solitude has important implications for economic development, but that these go in different directions. While alone living is a substantial driver of economic growth across European regions, high shares of lonely people undermine it. The connection of loneliness with economic growth is, however, dependent on the frequency of in-person meetings, with large shares of the population meeting others on a weekly basis yielding the best economic returns.
    Keywords: solitude, alone living, loneliness, growth, GDP per capita, regions
    JEL: J12 P48 R23
    Date: 2021–10
  9. By: Yann Raineau; Éric GIRAUD-HÉRAUD
    Abstract: Nudges, known to bring about behavioral change, are today a controversial public policy tool. Grievances most often concern their ephemeral scope or legitimacy, but these complaints are rarely based on a detailed understanding of how they work, which considerably limits their critical analysis. In this paper, we mobilize Akerlof’s (1997) model of social distance to better understand the effectiveness of informational nudges. We then show how implicit cognitive biases remain the main source of performance, leading us to renewed ethical considerations. We illustrate our conjectures with a randomized controlled trial in the context of pesticide use in agriculture.
    Keywords: nudges, RCT, farmer behavior, social norms, ethics of public interventions
    JEL: C93 D91 Q15
    Date: 2021
  10. By: Minh Tam Bui; Ivo Vlaev
    Abstract: Ageing society poses an increasing need for elderly care and the essential role of unpaid family care. Using time-use data of Thailand 2014/2015, we found significant gender gaps in providing eldercare across heterogenous groups. The novelty of this study is a measurement of altruism proxy, its gender bias to examine the effects of caregiver’s altruistic behavior on care provision and to explain the caregiving burden on women. Our analysis reveals that education has different effects on care among male and female caregivers, but not the employment status. The instrumental variable modelling reveals that reducing men’s paid work is unlikely to raise their time spent on eldercare and swapping leisure time for care time is one-for-one among men but multiplicative among women. Strong associations between altruism and peer pressure imply behavioral change strategies to target social norms and underpin policy interventions beside the state provision of long-term care for a more equitable eldercare work.
    Keywords: Unpaid Work; Elder Care; Gender Gaps; Altruism; Behavioral Change; Time Use
    JEL: D13 D64 D9 J14 J16 J22
    Date: 2021–11

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.