nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2021‒11‒29
ten papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Heroes and Villains: The Effects of Combat Heroism on Autocratic Values and Nazi Collaboration in France By Cage, Julia; Dagorret, Anna; Grosjean, Pauline; Jha, Saumitra
  2. Harmful Norms: Can Social Convention Theory Explain the Persistence of Female Genital Cutting in Africa? By Congdon Fors, Heather; Isaksson, Ann-Sofie; Lindskog, Annika
  3. Does Social Media cause Polarization? Evidence from access to Twitter Echo Chambers during the 2019 Argentine Presidential Debate By Rafael Di Tella; Ramiro H. Gálvez; Ernesto Schargrodsky
  4. Leaders in Juvenile Crime By Díaz, Carlos; Patacchini, Eleonora; Verdier, Thierry; Zenou, Yves
  5. Education Transmission and Network Formation By Boucher, Vincent; Del Bello, Carlo L.; Panebianco, Fabrizio; Verdier, Thierry; Zenou, Yves
  6. Past Exposure to Macroeconomic Shocks and Populist Attitudes in Europe By Despina Gavresi; Anastasia Litina
  7. Impacts of Farmers’ Participation in Social Capital Networks on Adoption of Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in Nigeria By Kehinde, Ayodeji Damilola
  8. Are you worthy of my help? An experiment in worthiness framing on charitable donations By Rhosyn A. Almond
  9. Effects of Attention and Recognition on Engagement, Content Creation and Sharing: Experimental Evidence from an Image Sharing Social Network By Huang, Justin T.; Narayanan, Sridhar
  10. Intolerance Predicts Climate Skepticism By Johansson, Alva; Berggren, Niclas; Nilsson, Therese

  1. By: Cage, Julia (Sciences Po, Paris); Dagorret, Anna (Stanford U); Grosjean, Pauline (UNSW Sydney); Jha, Saumitra (Stanford U)
    Abstract: Can heroes legitimize strongly-proscribed and repugnant political behaviors? We exploit the purposefully arbitrary rotation of French regiments to measure the legitimizing effects of heroic credentials. 53% of French line regiments happened to rotate under a specific general, Philippe Petain, during the pivotal WWI battle of Verdun (1916). Using recently-declassified intelligence data on 95,314 individuals, we find the home municipalities of regiments serving under Petain at Verdun raised 7% more Nazi collaborators during the Petain-led Vichy regime (1940-44). The effects are similar across joining Fascist parties, German forces, paramilitaries that hunted Jews and the Resistance, and collaborating economically. These municipalities also increasingly vote for right-wing parties between the wars. The voting effects persist after WWII, becoming particularly salient during social crises. We argue these results reflect the complementary role of the heroes of Verdun in legitimizing and diffusing the authoritarian values of their former leader.
    JEL: D74 L14 N44
    Date: 2020–12
  2. By: Congdon Fors, Heather (University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics); Isaksson, Ann-Sofie (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)); Lindskog, Annika (University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the explanatory power of social convention theory for explaining the persistence of female genital cutting (FGC) in a broad sample of African countries. While influential in policy circles, the idea that FGC is best described as a bad equilibrium in a social coordination game has recently been challenged by quantitative evidence from selected countries. These studies have pointed towards the importance of private preferences. We use novel approaches to test whether FGC is social interdependent when decisions also depend on private preferences. We test implications of the simple fact that according to social convention theory mothers will sometimes cut their daughters even if they do not support the practice. The substantial regional variation in FGC practices warrants investigation in a broad sample. Empirical results drawing on Demographic and Health Survey data from 34 surveys performed between 1992-2018 in 11 African countries suggest that cutting behavior is indeed often socially interdependent, and hence that it can be understood as a social convention. Our findings indicate that even if social convention theory does not provide the full picture, it should not be dismissed. Accordingly, interventions that acknowledge the social interdependence of cutting behavior are likely to be more successful than interventions that do not.
    Keywords: Female genital cutting; Social convention theory; Norms; Africa
    JEL: D71 D91 I15 O55
    Date: 2021–11–15
  3. By: Rafael Di Tella; Ramiro H. Gálvez; Ernesto Schargrodsky
    Abstract: We study how two groups, those inside vs those outside echo chambers, react to a political event when we vary social media status (Twitter). Our treatments mimic two strategies often suggested as a way to limit polarization on social media: they expose people to counter-attitudinal data, and they get people to switch off social media. Our main result is that subjects that started inside echo chambers became more polarized when these two strategies were implemented. The only scenario where they did not become more polarized is when they did not even experience the political event. Interestingly, subjects that were outside echo chambers before our study began experienced no change (or a reduction) in polarization. We also study a group of non-Twitter users in order to have a simple, offline benchmark of the debate’s impact on polarization.
    JEL: D72 L82 L86 O33 P16 Z13
    Date: 2021–11
  4. By: Díaz, Carlos (Catholic University of Uruguay); Patacchini, Eleonora (Cornell University); Verdier, Thierry (Paris School of Economics); Zenou, Yves (Monash University)
    Abstract: This paper presents a new theory of crime where leaders transmit a crime technology and act as a role model for other criminals. We show that, in equilibrium, an individual's crime effort and criminal decisions depend on the geodesic distance to the leader in his or her network of social contacts. By using data on friendship networks among U.S. high-school students, we structurally estimate the model and find evidence supporting its predictions. In particular, by using a definition of a criminal leader that is exogenous to the network formation of friendship links, we find that the longer is the distance to the leader, the lower is the criminal activity of the delinquents and the less likely they are to become criminals. We finally perform a counterfactual experiment that reveals that a policy that removes all criminal leaders from a school can, on average, reduce criminal activity by about 20% and the individual probability of becoming a criminal by 10%.
    Keywords: crime leaders, social distance, criminal decisions, closeness centrality
    JEL: C31 D85 K42
    Date: 2021–10
  5. By: Boucher, Vincent (Université Laval); Del Bello, Carlo L. (Paris School of Economics); Panebianco, Fabrizio (Bocconi University); Verdier, Thierry (Paris School of Economics); Zenou, Yves (Monash University)
    Abstract: We propose a model of intergenerational transmission of education wherein children belong to either highly educated or low-educated families. Children choose the intensity of their social activities while parents decide how much educational effort to exert. Using data on adolescents in the United States, we structurally estimate this model and find that, on average, children's homophily acts as a complement to the educational effort of highly educated parents but as a substitute for the educational effort of low-educated parents. We also perform some counterfactual policy simulations. We find that policies that subsidize kids' socialization efforts can backfire for low-educated students because they tend to increase their interactions with other low-educated students (i.e., homophily), which reduces the education effort of their parents and, thus, their chance of becoming educated. On the contrary, policies that increase heterophily by favoring friendship links between kids from different education backgrounds can be effective in reducing the education gap between them.
    Keywords: social networks, education, homophily, cultural transmission
    JEL: D85 I21 Z13
    Date: 2021–10
  6. By: Despina Gavresi (University of Ioannina); Anastasia Litina (Department of Economics, University of Macedonia)
    Abstract: This paper explores the interplay between past exposure to macroeconomic shocks and populist attitudes. We document that individuals who experienced a macroeconomic shock during their impressionable years (between 18 and 25 years of age), are currently more prone to voting for populist parties, and manifest lower trust both in national and European institutions. We use data from the European Social Survey (ESS) to construct the differential individual exposure to macroeconomic shocks during impressionable years. Our findings suggest that it is not only current exposure to shocks that matters (see e.g., Guiso et al. (2020)) but also past exposure to economic recessions, which has a persistent positive effect on the rise of populism. Interestingly, the interplay between the two, i.e., past and current exposure to economic shocks, has a mitigating effect on the rise of populism. Individuals who were exposed to economic shocks in the past are less likely to manifest populist attitudes when faced with a current crisis, as suggested by the experience-based learning literature.
    Keywords: Macroeconomic Shocks, Trust, Attitudes, Populism
    JEL: D72 E60 F68 P16 Z13
    Date: 2021–11
  7. By: Kehinde, Ayodeji Damilola
    Keywords: Farm Management, Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies
    Date: 2021–08
  8. By: Rhosyn A. Almond (School of Economics and Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science, University of East Anglia, Norwich)
    Abstract: We investigate the effect of worthiness framing on donation behaviour – both the propensity to donate and magnitude of donation. People prefer to donate to ‘worthy’ causes. Prosocial behaviour is strongly influenced by value judgements based on the individual’s perception of a situation and are therefore highly context-dependent. In this experiment, the target of manipulation is the context of a donation decision. We invited participants to donate to the local food bank and used selected questions from the World Values Survey to measure perceptions about the context of inequality. We find a treatment effect of worthiness framing– but only for those with certain beliefs about the context of inequality. We use hardworking and unlucky frames to highlight the worthiness of the recipient group and find this framing is only effective in increasing donations if it challenges an individual’s prior beliefs. Framing a recipient as worthy only increases donations from those whose beliefs suggest they consider the poor less worthy.
    Keywords: prosocial behaviour, charity, worthiness, framing, deservingness
    Date: 2021–11
  9. By: Huang, Justin T. (U of Michigan); Narayanan, Sridhar (Stanford U)
    Abstract: In this study, we examine the impacts of attention and recognition received by a user's content on a social network on that user's subsequent engagement on the network, content creation and content sharing. The study of the impact of attention and recognition is typically challenging because they are not randomly assigned. Systematic differences within and across users in the degree of attention and recognition received by content shared by them makes the identification of effects difficult. To solve this identification problem, we implemented a field experiment in collaboration with an art-sharing social network, where we experimentally manipulated attention and recognition by selectively featuring users' content. A unique aspect of our experimental context is that we are able to observe both on-network and off-network activity of the individuals concerned. The main results of our experiment are that our manipulation shifting attention and recognition on the network increases engagement, tie-formation, posting of creative output and the usage of underlying software tools used to create content. We explore the temporal variation, heterogeneity, and mediation in these effects.
    Date: 2020–12
  10. By: Johansson, Alva (Department of Economics, Lund University); Berggren, Niclas (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)); Nilsson, Therese (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))
    Abstract: While there is almost unanimous consent among scientists that climate change is real and has detrimental consequences, there is a sizable number of people who are skeptical towards these propositions and who are not worried by climate change. In an attempt to understand the basis of climate skepticism, we look at the role of intolerance, a culturally transmitted attitude to the effect that people with certain characteristics are not to be respected. The theoretical link from intolerance to climate skepticism is driven by two elements: insufficient or biased knowledge formation and a value of not caring very much about the welfare of others. Our empirical analysis confirms that intolerance on the basis of race, ethnicity, immigration status, religion or sexual orientation predicts climate skepticism. By using the epidemiological method, relating the views on climate change of second-generation immigrants in Europe to cultural values in their countries of origin, we are able to rule out reverse causality – a novelty in the literature trying to explain climate skepticism. To get a feeling for the importance of intolerance, an increase in the share who are intolerant towards people of a different race in the individual’s country of origin by 10 percentage points implies a reduced probability of the individual considering the consequences of climate change extremely bad of 4.3 percentage points (21.5%). An important implication of our findings is that to influence climate skeptics, it may be necessary to go beyond argumentation about the facts as such and to find ways to affect more basic individual characteristics.
    Keywords: Climate skepticism; Culture; Intolerance; Causality; Values
    JEL: F64 Q01 Q54 Z10
    Date: 2021–11–15

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