nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2022‒01‒10
ten papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Social Organization and the Roots of Supernatural Beliefs By Araújo, Daniel; Carrillo, Bladimir; Sampaio, Breno
  2. Stronger Together: Loneliness and social connectedness in Australia By Alan S Duncan; Daniel Kiely; Astghik Mavisakalyan; Austen Peters; Richard Seymour; Chris Twomey; Loan Vu
  3. Charitable giving, social capital and positional concerns By Antinyan, Armenak; Baghdasaryan, Vardan; Grigoryan, Aleksandr
  4. When Reality Bites: Local Deaths and Vaccine Take-Up By Giulietti, Corrado; Vlassopoulos, Michael; Zenou, Yves
  5. Vaccination Policy and Trust By Jelnov, Artyom; Jelnov, Pavel
  6. Migrants know better: Migrants' networks and FDI By Filippo Santi; Giorgia Giovannetti; Margherita Velucchi
  7. Social incentive factors in interventions promoting sustainable behaviors: A meta-analysis. By Phu Nguyen-Van; Anne Stenger; Tuyen Tiet
  8. Religious practice and student performance: Evidence from Ramadan fasting By Hornung, Erik; Schwerdt, Guido; Strazzeri, Maurizio
  9. Selfish learning is more important than fair-minded conditional cooperation in public goods games By Maxwell N. Burton-Chellew; Claire Guerin
  10. Is information enough? The case of Republicans and climate change By Monika Pompeo; Nina Serdarevic

  1. By: Araújo, Daniel (Universidade Federal de Pernambuco); Carrillo, Bladimir (Universidade Federal de Pernambuco); Sampaio, Breno (Universidade Federal de Pernambuco)
    Abstract: Religion and beliefs in the supernatural are present in all societies. Yet, studies about the economic roots of small-scale supernatural belief systems remain quite limited. In this work, we test the anthropological hypothesis that historical dependence on pastoralism favored the adoption of customs that contributed to the reduction in witchcraft beliefs. Pastoral societies were characterized by the use of social strategies as a way of mitigating the risks inherent in pastoral production, making the practice of accusations of witchcraft a barrier to maintaining their existing social ties. Consistent with this hypothesis, we document that people descending from historically more pastoral societies have a lower level of contemporary belief in witches. The results using an instrumental variable based on the ecological determinants of pastoralism corroborates our main analysis. We further show that the main mechanism behind our result seems to be pastoralist groups' freedom of movement and an increase in social ties, proxied by the level of trust in relatives, neighbors, courts, and local councils. We also show that the reduced belief in witches increases references to witchcraft in pastoral societies' oral traditions, narratives, stories, jokes, and proverbs, possibly because the lack of fear makes pastoralists more willing to speak, sing and joke about the supernatural. Finally, we test for the importance of cultural persistence by examining people who live today in locations with low levels of suitability for pastoralism but belong to ethnic groups that have historically lived in areas with high levels of suitability and show that the reduction in belief in witches persists.
    Keywords: culture, pastoralism, persistence, superstition, witchcraft
    JEL: O10 Z10 Z13 Z19
    Date: 2021–12
  2. By: Alan S Duncan (Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin University); Daniel Kiely (Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, Curtin Business School); Astghik Mavisakalyan (Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin University); Austen Peters (Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, Curtin University); Richard Seymour (Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, Curtin Business School); Chris Twomey (Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, Curtin University); Loan Vu (Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, Curtin Business School)
    Abstract: This report, the eighth in the Focus on the States series, examines trends in social connectedness in Australia and assesses their implications for human wellbeing and development. Stronger Together: Loneliness and social connectedness in Australia explores the breadth and variety of people’s experiences through the COVID-19 pandemic and asks: what has the pandemic revealed about the state of Australia’s social capital, the connectedness of our communities, and our own sense of trust and belonging? Loneliness, social isolation and disconnection are known to impose health and economic costs, but which sections of our society are at greatest risk of loneliness or isolation? What drivers can mitigate loneliness, and build our sense of inclusion? Has technology and social media improved our sense of connectedness, or has it left some with greater feelings of separation or isolation? The findings from this report are intended to increase public understanding around key issues of loneliness and belonging, social inclusion and connectedness, and identifies actionable policies and strategies that can help strengthen Australia’s social fabric, enhance the personal development of children and young adults, improve personal and community wellbeing, and support people to achieving their goals, and reach their full potential.
    Keywords: multiculturalism, loneliness, social capital, social isolation, social connectivity, wellbeing, disadvantage, economic costs of loneliness, community resilience
    JEL: J17 J12 J14 J17 D91 Z1
    Date: 2021–11
  3. By: Antinyan, Armenak (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University.); Baghdasaryan, Vardan (College of Business and Economics, American University of Armenia, Yerevan, Armenia); Grigoryan, Aleksandr (College of Business and Economics, American University of Armenia, Yerevan, Armenia)
    Abstract: Research on the effects of positional concerns on individuals' attitudes and behavior in certain policy-relevant areas is lacking. In this paper, we investigate the relationship between positional concerns, charitable giving and social capital. We use data from the "Caucasus Barometer" survey administered in three post-Soviet transition economies: Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Our analysis proceeds in two phases. First, controlling for absolute income and other individual and household characteristics, we show an association between positional concerns and charitable giving as well as between positional concerns and social capital. Second, we use an instrumental variable model that uses heteroskedasticity-based instruments generated through Lewbel's method to provide supporting evidence of the causal impact of positional concerns on the outcome variables of interest. We find that the relative deprivation of a household can have negative impacts on its members'charitable giving and social capital.
    Keywords: Positional Concern; Social Capital; Charitable Giving; Reference Group.
    JEL: D31 D63 D91 P30 Z13
    Date: 2021–12
  4. By: Giulietti, Corrado; Vlassopoulos, Michael; Zenou, Yves
    Abstract: In this study, we investigate whether COVID-19 deaths that occurred before vaccination rollouts impact subsequent vaccination take-up. We use data on local vaccination rates and COVID-19-related deaths from England measured at high geographic granularity. We find that vaccination take-up as of November 2021 is positively associated with pre-vaccine COVID-19-related deaths, controlling for demographic, economic, and health-related characteristics of the localities, while including geographic fixed effects. In addition, the share of ethnic minorities in a locality is negatively associated with vaccination rates, and localities with a larger share of ethnic minorities increase their vaccination rates if they are exposed to more COVID-related-deaths. Further evidence on vaccination intention at the individual level from a representative sample corroborates these patterns. Overall, our evidence suggests that social proximity to victims of the disease triggers a desire to take protective measures against it.
    Keywords: Vaccination hesitancy,COVID-19,Social interactions,Information,Behavior change
    JEL: H51 I12
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Jelnov, Artyom; Jelnov, Pavel
    Abstract: We study the relationship between trust and vaccination. We show theoretically that vaccination rates are higher in countries with more transparent and accountable governments. The mechanism that generates this result is the lower probability of a transparent and accountable government to promote an unsafe vaccine. Empirical evidence supports this result. We find that countries perceived as less corrupt and more liberal experience higher vaccination rates. Furthermore, they are less likely to adopt a mandatory vaccination policy. One unit of the Corruption Perception Index (scaled from 0 to 10) is associated with a vaccination rate that is higher by one percentage point (pp) but with a likelihood of compulsory vaccination that is lower by 10 pp. In addition, Google Trends data show that public interest in corruption is correlated with interest in vaccination. The insight from our analysis is that corruption affects not only the supply but also the demand for public services.
    Keywords: vaccination,corruption
    JEL: I18
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Filippo Santi; Giorgia Giovannetti; Margherita Velucchi
    Abstract: We use the instruments of the social network analysis to revisit the relationship between international migration and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows in the period between 2000 and 2015. Applying a multilevel mixed estimator inspired to the gravity literature, we test how and to what extent the structure of the international migrants’ network contributes to bilateral FDI flows. We find that the inclusion of network level statistics exposes a much larger degree of complexity in the relationship between international migration and investments. Testing the assumption that migrants networks act as preferential channel for information with their homeland, we find evidence that a more diverse immigrant community in investing countries could “perturb†the flow of information at bilateral level, de facto translating into lower bilateral FDI
    Date: 2021
  7. By: Phu Nguyen-Van; Anne Stenger; Tuyen Tiet
    Abstract: Based on a meta-analysis, this paper highlights the strength and relevance of several social incentive factors concerning pro-environmental behaviors, including social influence, network factors (like network size, network connection and leadership), trust in others, and trust in institutions. Firstly, our results suggest that social influence is necessary for the emergence of pro-environmental behaviors. More specifically, an internal social influence (i.e., motivating people to change their perceptions and attitudes) is essential to promote pro-environmental behaviors. Secondly, network connection encourages pro-environmental behaviors, meaning that the effectiveness of a conservation policy can be improved if connections among individuals are increased. Finally, trust in institutions can dictate individual behaviors to shape policy design and generate desired policy outcomes.
    Keywords: Meta-analysis; Network; Pro-environmental behavior; Social influence; Social incentive; Trust.
    JEL: D91 Q50
    Date: 2021
  8. By: Hornung, Erik (University of Cologne); Schwerdt, Guido (University of Konstanz); Strazzeri, Maurizio (University of Bern)
    Abstract: We investigate how the intensity of Ramadan affects educational outcomes by exploiting spatio-temporal variation in annual fasting hours. Longer fasting hours are related to increases in student performance in a panel of TIMMS test scores (1995–2019) across Muslim countries but not other countries. Results are confirmed in a panel of PISA test scores (2003–2018) allowing within country-wave comparisons of Muslim to non-Muslim students across Europe. We provide evidence consistent with the hypothesis that a demanding Ramadan during adolescence affects educational performance by facilitating formation of social capital and social identity via increased religious participation and shared experiences among students.
    Keywords: Education, Religion, Religious Participation, Ramadan, Social Identity, Social Capital, PISA, TIMMS JEL Classification: I21, Z12, J24, O15
    Date: 2021
  9. By: Maxwell N. Burton-Chellew; Claire Guerin
    Abstract: Why does human cooperation often unravel in economic experiments despite a promising start? Previous studies have interpreted the decline as the reaction of disappointed cooperators retaliating in response to lesser cooperators (conditional cooperation). This interpretation has been considered evidence of a uniquely human form of cooperation, motivated by altruistic concerns for fairness and requiring special evolutionary explanations. However, experiments have typically shown individuals information about both their personal payoff and information about the decisions of their groupmates (social information). Showing both confounds explanations based on conditional cooperation with explanations based on individuals learning how to better play the game. Here we experimentally decouple these two forms of information, and thus these two learning processes, in public goods games involving 616 Swiss university participants. We find that payoff information leads to a greater decline, supporting a payoff-based learning hypothesis. In contrast, social information has small or negligible effect, contradicting the conditional cooperation hypothesis. We also find widespread evidence of both confusion and selfish motives, suggesting that human cooperation is maybe not so unique after all.
    Keywords: altruism, behavioral economics, confusion, reciprocity, social preferences
    JEL: D01
    Date: 2021–11
  10. By: Monika Pompeo (University of Nottingham, University of Bologna); Nina Serdarevic (Norwegian School of Economics)
    Abstract: One of the most important determinants when it comes to climate change attitudes is political partisanship. While both Democrats and Republicans underestimate the share of their in-groups that believe climate change is happening, this perception gap is wider for Republicans. Using a sample of Republican respondents, we examine their beliefs about climate change and the perceived distribution of climate change attitudes of either other Americans or Republicans. Then, to generate exogenous variation in beliefs, we provide respondents in the treatment groups with the actual distribution of either American or Republican attitudes towards climate change. Our results highlight the importance of distinguishing between beliefs and behaviour when assessing the effect of information on issues that fall strongly along party lines. While information alters the respondents’ beliefs about the Republican Party’s stance on climate change, it is not enough to instigate a change in individual donation behaviour.
    Keywords: Republicans, partisanship, climate change, social norms, information, online experiment
    Date: 2021–08

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