nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2022‒01‒03
seven 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. Voice and Political Engagement: Evidence From a Natural Field Experiment By Anselm Hager; Lukas Hensel; Christopher Roth; Andreas Stegmann
  3. Does greater discretion improve the performance in the execution of public works? Evidence from the reform of discretionary thresholds in Italy By Finocchiaro Castro, Massimo; Guccio, Calogero
  4. The preserving effect of social protection on social cohesion during the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from Kenya By Strupat, Christoph
  5. Family Social Norms and Child Labor By Gil Epstein
  6. Dissonance Minimization and Conversation in Social Networks By Mikhail Anufriev; Kirill Borissov; Mikhail Pakhnin
  7. An updated OECD framework on drivers of trust in public institutions to meet current and future challenges By Monica Brezzi; Santiago González; David Nguyen; Mariana Prats

  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 ï¬ nd 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: 2021–06
  2. By: Anselm Hager (Humboldt University); Lukas Hensel (Peking University); Christopher Roth (University of Cologne, ECONtribute, briq, CESifo, CAGE Warwick, CEPR, MPI Bonn); Andreas Stegmann (University of Warwick, briq, Cage, CEPR)
    Abstract: We conduct a natural field experiment with a major European party to test whether giv-ing party supporters the opportunity to voice their opinions increases their engagement in the party’s electoral campaign. In our experiment, the party asked a random subset of supporters for their opinions on the importance of different topics. Giving supporters more opportunities to voice their opinions increases their engagement in the campaign as measured using behavioral data from the party’s smartphone application. Survey data reveals that our voice treatments also increase other margins of campaign effort as well as perceived voice. Our evidence highlights that parties can increase their supporters’ investment in the democratic process by implementing policies that increase their voice.
    Keywords: Political engagement, Inclusion, Voice, Agency, Natural Field Experiment, Canvassing
    JEL: D8 P16
    Date: 2021–12
  3. By: Finocchiaro Castro, Massimo; Guccio, Calogero
    Abstract: In this work, adopting a semi-parametric approach and a quasi-experiment setting, we empirically assess the effects of a reform of public procurement regulation in Italy, approved in 2011, that increased the discretion of bureaucrats in selecting the procurer. To this end, employing a large dataset of public works managed by Italian municipalities in the period 2009-2013, we first estimate contract execution performance; then, we test the impact of the reform on the efficiency of public works execution in an institutional context characterized by large differences in social capital and trust in institutions. The results provide evidence that the reform exerted a positive, albeit small, effect on public works execution performance. However, the beneficial role exerted by increased discretion is positive and significant only in those areas where social capital and trust in institutions have reached higher levels. These results seem to suggest that more discretion leads to greater efficiency but also to greater corruption risks suggesting that increased discretion must be balanced by strengthened ex-post controls, particularly in high-risk areas.
    Keywords: Bureaucratic discretion,Social capital,Corruption,Public works contracts,Efficiency,Non-parametric frontier,Semi-parametric methods
    JEL: D24 D73 H57 P16
    Date: 2021
  4. By: Strupat, Christoph
    Abstract: This paper examines empirically whether social protection in the form of adapted social assistance programmes are affecting social cohesion during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using unique primary data from nationally representative, in-person surveys from Kenya allows for the exploration of the effect of social protection on attributes of social cohesion (trust, cooperation and identity). The analysis employs a difference-in-differences approachthat compares households with and without social assistance coverage before and after the first wave of the pandemic. The findings suggest that social assistance programmes have a preserving effect on social cohesion. Attributes of social cohesion remain stable for beneficiaries, while they decline for non-beneficiaries due to the pandemic. This result is pronounced in regions that faced larger restrictions due to government lockdown policies. Overall, the results suggest that existing national social assistance programmes and their adaptation in times of large covariate shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can be beneficial for social cohesion.
    Keywords: social protection,social assistance,social cohesion,COVID-19,Kenya
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Gil Epstein (Gil S. Epstein)
    Abstract: Child labor is a widespread phenomenon and therefore is of interest to both researchers and policy makers. Various reasons for the existence of child labor have been proposed with the goal of designing appropriate solutions. While household poverty is viewed as the main reason for child labor, we choose to focus on the phenomenon that parents who worked during own childhood are more likely to send their children to work. We also look at the effect of social norms on the parents’ child labor decision and analyze both these effects on the supply of labor and equilibrium in the labor market. Finally, we suggest an explanation for the phenomenon of poor societies with similar income levels that differ significantly in literacy rates and propose policy improvements.
    Keywords: Child Labor, Social norms, Intergenerational Transmission
    JEL: D13 D64 D91 J22 Z10
    Date: 2021–12
  6. By: Mikhail Anufriev; Kirill Borissov; Mikhail Pakhnin
    Abstract: We study a model of social learning in networks where the dynamics of beliefs are driven by conversations of dissonance-minimizing agents. Given their current beliefs, agents make statements, tune them to the statements of their associates, and then revise their beliefs. We characterize the long-run beliefs in a society, provide the necessary and sufficient conditions for a society to reach a consensus, and show that agents’ social influences (weights on the consensus belief) are decreasing in their dissonance sensitivities. Comparing the outcomes of two models, with and without conversation, we show that conversation leads to a redistribution of social influences in favor of agents with higher self-confidence. Finally, we provide analytical insights for the model where agents minimize dissonance by revising both beliefs and network, and show that an endogenous change of network may prevent a society from reaching a consensus.
    Keywords: social networks, DeGroot learning, social influence, dissonance minimization, conversation
    JEL: D83 D85 D91 Z13
    Date: 2021
  7. By: Monica Brezzi; Santiago González; David Nguyen; Mariana Prats
    Abstract: Trust between citizens and their governments is crucial for the legitimacy and functioning of democracies. This paper discusses the main determinants of people’s trust in public institutions and their measurement, in times of crisis as well as for a long-term, strong, inclusive and green recovery. It presents evidence on the great variation in the levels and drivers of trust across public institutions, across levels of government within countries, and among population groups. It also identifies three main trust challenges for public governance that were heightened by the COVID-19 crisis: i) people’s views on the credibility and effectiveness of government action on intergenerational and often global challenges; ii) the changes in political participation and political attitudes; and iii) an increasing distrust of and disengagement from democratic processes. Building on previous OECD work, and taking into account lessons from other crises and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the paper introduces a revised and expanded version of the OECD Framework on Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions. Furthermore, it discusses how this Framework is applied in the OECD Trust Survey. Both the Framework and the Survey aim to provide governments with actionable evidence to build and maintain people’s trust as the basis for successful planning and policy reforms, allowing democracies to be fitter, stronger and more resilient in the future.
    Keywords: COVID-19, democracy, intergenerational challenges, measurement, public trust
    JEL: D02 H12 H11
    Date: 2021–12–22

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