nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2022‒04‒18
six papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Social Networks and Surviving the Holocaust By Matej Belin; Tomas Jelinek; Stepan Jurajda
  2. The Making of Civic Virtues: A School-Based Experiment in Three Countries By Briole, Simon; Gurgand, Marc; Maurin, Eric; McNally, Sandra; Ruiz-Valenzuela, Jenifer; Santín, Daniel
  3. For God, Tsar and Fatherland? The Political Influence of Church By Ekaterina Travova
  4. Expanding the Measurement of Culture with a Sample of Two Billion Humans By Obradovich, Nick; Özak, Ömer; Martín, Ignacio; Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio; Awad, Edmond; Cebrián, Manuel; Cuevas, Rubén; Desmet, Klaus; Rahwan, Iyad; Cuevas, Ángel
  5. Does growing up in a recession increase compassion? The case of attitudes towards immigration By Cotofan, Maria; Dur, Robert; Meier, Stephen
  6. Migration and Social Preferences By Diego Marino Fages; Matias Morales

  1. By: Matej Belin; Tomas Jelinek; Stepan Jurajda
    Abstract: Survivor testimonies link survival in deadly POW camps, Gulags, and Nazi concentration camps to the formation of close friendships with other prisoners. We provide statistical evidence consistent with these fundamentally selective testimonies. We study the survival of the 140 thousand Jews who entered the Theresienstadt ghetto, where 33 thousand died and from where over 80 thousand were sent to extermination camps. We ask whether an individual’s social status prior to deportation, and the availability of potential friends among fellow prisoners influenced the risk of death in Theresienstadt, the ability to avoid transports to the camps, and the chances of surviving Auschwitz. Pre-deportation social status protected prisoners in the self-administered society of the Theresienstadt ghetto, but it was no longer helpful in the extreme conditions of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Relying on multiple proxies of pre-existing social networks, we uncover a significant survival advantage to entering Auschwitz with a group of potential friends.
    Keywords: social status; social networks; Holocaust survival; Nazi concentration camp; ghetto; Theresienstadt/Terezín; Auschwitz-Birkenau;
    Date: 2022–03
  2. By: Briole, Simon (Paris School of Economics); Gurgand, Marc (Paris School of Economics); Maurin, Eric (Paris School of Economics); McNally, Sandra (University of Surrey); Ruiz-Valenzuela, Jenifer (London School of Economics); Santín, Daniel (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)
    Abstract: With the rise of polarization and extremism, the question of how best to transmit civic virtues across generations is more acute than ever. In this paper, we test the hypothesis that schools can be the place for this transmission by empowering students and gathering them around concrete and democratically chosen objectives. We draw on an RCT implemented in a large sample of middle schools in three European countries. The evaluated program leads students to carry out collective citizenship projects in their immediate communities under the supervision of teachers trained in student-centered teaching methods. The program significantly increases student altruism, their political self-efficacy as well as the quality of their relationship with their classmates and their respect for the rules of school life (less sanctions and absenteeism). In all three countries, the benefits are greater for students with the highest level of altruism and interest in politics at baseline. Investments made at an early age appear to be complement to those made during adolescence for the production of civic virtues.
    Keywords: citizenship, education, teaching practices, project-based learning, RCT, youth
    JEL: I20 I24 J24
    Date: 2022–03
  3. By: Ekaterina Travova
    Abstract: This paper investigates the influence of the Orthodox Church network in Post-Soviet Russia on individual political preferences and election results. I use the numbers of monks and nuns from Orthodox monasteries operated in the Russian Empire before the Revolution as historical religious markers to construct a Bartik-style instrument (1991). I find that a denser Church network increases the average local approval rating for the current president and the share of votes cast for the government candidate in presidential elections. Further analysis of mechanisms shows that, today, the extending Church network is increasingly less able to attract people to attend church and to substantially increase the share of practicing believers. However, it does affect the political preferences of those who, regardless of their faith in God, self-identify as Orthodox. The potential channel for persuasion is media.
    Keywords: Orthodoxy; Church; Approval; Election; National Identity; Media;
    JEL: D83 N33 N34 P16 Z12 Z13
    Date: 2022–03
  4. By: Obradovich, Nick; Özak, Ömer; Martín, Ignacio; Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio; Awad, Edmond; Cebrián, Manuel; Cuevas, Rubén; Desmet, Klaus; Rahwan, Iyad; Cuevas, Ángel
    Abstract: Culture has played a pivotal role in human evolution. Yet, the ability of social scientists to study culture is limited by the currently available measurement instruments. Scholars of culture must regularly choose between scalable but sparse survey-based methods or restricted but rich ethnographic methods. Here, we demonstrate that massive online social networks can advance the study of human culture by providing quantitative, scalable, and high-resolution measurement of behaviorally revealed cultural values and preferences. We employ publicly available data across nearly 60,000 topic dimensions drawn from two billion Facebook users across 225 countries and territories. We first validate that cultural distances calculated from this measurement instrument correspond to traditional survey-based and objective measures of cross-national cultural differences. We then demonstrate that this expanded measure enables rich insight into the cultural landscape globally at previously impossible resolution. We analyze the importance of national borders in shaping culture and compare subnational divisiveness to gender divisiveness across countries. The global collection of massive data on human behavior provides a high-dimensional complement to traditional cultural metrics. Further, the granularity of the measure presents enormous promise to advance scholars' understanding of additional fundamental questions in the social sciences. The measure enables detailed investigation into the geopolitical stability of countries, social cleavages within both small and large-scale human groups, the integration of migrant populations, and the disaffection of certain population groups from the political process, among myriad other potential future applications.
    Keywords: Culture,Cultural Distance,Identity,Regional Culture,Gender Differences
    JEL: C80 F1 J1 O10 R10 Z10
    Date: 2022
  5. By: Cotofan, Maria; Dur, Robert; Meier, Stephen
    Abstract: Macroeconomic conditions during young adulthood have a persistent impact on people's attitudes and preferences. The seminal paper by Giuliano and Spilimbergo (2014) shows that people who grew up in a recession are more likely to favor government redistribution and assistance to the poor. Moreover, they are more likely to believe that bad luck rather than a lack of hard work causes poverty, i.e. they seem to be more compassionate towards the poor. In this paper, we investigate how inclusive this increase in compassion is by studying how macroeconomic conditions experienced during young adulthood affect attitudes towards immigration. Using data from the General Social Survey and the World Value Survey, we find strong evidence that bad macroeconomic circumstances during young adulthood strengthen attitudes against immigration for the rest of people's lives. In addition, growing up in difficult macroeconomic times increases parochialism, i.e. people become more outgroup hostile --- not just against immigrants. Our results thus suggest that the underlying motive for more government redistribution in response to a recession does not originate from a universal increase in compassion, but rather seems to be more self-interested and restricted to one's ingroup.
    Keywords: immigration; attitudes; social preferences; Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA); Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); Migration Policy Institute (MPI); Maddison Project Database
    JEL: D90 J10
    Date: 2021–04–01
  6. By: Diego Marino Fages (University of Nottingham); Matias Morales (New York University)
    Abstract: Anti-immigrant sentiment is frequently motivated by the idea that migrants are a threat to the host country’s culture (Rapoport et al., 2020). We contribute to the discussion by investigating whether migrants adapt their social preferences (SPs) to those prevalent in their host country. For this, we rely on a global and experimentally validated survey to show that migrants’ preferences strongly correlate with their host population’s SPs and provide some evidence of a causal relationship.
    Keywords: Migration, Assimilation, Social Preferences
    Date: 2022–07

This nep-soc issue is ©2022 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.