nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2022‒05‒09
seven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. The Social Integration of International Migrants: Evidence from the Networks of Syrians in Germany By Michael Bailey; Drew Johnston; Martin Koenen; Theresa Kuchler; Dominic Russel; Johannes Stroebel
  2. Police violence reduces civilian cooperation and engagement with law enforcement By Desmond Ang; Panka Bencsik; Jesse Bruhn; Ellora Derenoncourt
  3. Building trust in rural producer organizations: results from a randomized controlled trial By Tanguy Bernard; Pia Naima DÄnzer; Markus Frölich; Andreas Landmann; Angelino Viceisza; Fleur Wouterse
  4. Who Benefits from Political Connections in Brazilian Municipalities By Pedro Forquesato
  5. Living and perceiving a crisis: how the pandemic influenced Americans' preferences and beliefs By Guglielmo Briscese; Maddalena Grignani; Stephen Stapleton
  6. Do Labels Polarise? Theory and Evidence from the Brexit Referendum By Su-Min; Alexandru
  7. Ideological Spillovers across the Atlantic? Evidence from Trump's Presidential Election By Joan Costa-i-Font; Martin Ljunge

  1. By: Michael Bailey; Drew Johnston; Martin Koenen; Theresa Kuchler; Dominic Russel; Johannes Stroebel
    Abstract: We use de-identified data from Facebook to study the social integration of Syrian migrants in Germany, a country that received a large influx of refugees during the Syrian Civil War. We construct measures of migrants’ social integration based on Syrians’ friendship links to Germans, their use of the German language, and their participation in local social groups. We find large variation in Syrians’ social integration across German counties, and use a movers’ research design to document that these differences are largely due to causal effects of place. Regional differences in the social integration of Syrians are shaped both by the rate at which German natives befriend other locals in general (general friendliness) and the relative rate at which they befriend local Syrian migrants versus German natives (relative friending). We follow the friending behavior of Germans that move across locations to show that both general friendliness and relative friending are more strongly affected by place-based effects such as local institutions than by persistent individual characteristics of natives (e.g., attitudes to-ward neighbors or migrants). Relative friending is higher in areas with lower unemployment and more completed government-sponsored integration courses. Using variation in teacher availability as an instrument, we find that integration courses had a substantial causal effect on the social integration of Syrian migrants. We also use fluctuations in the presence of Syrian migrants across high school cohorts to show that natives with quasi-random expo-sure to Syrians in school are more likely to befriend other Syrian migrants in other settings, suggesting that contact between groups can shape subsequent attitudes towards migrants.
    Keywords: integration, immigration, social networks, place effects
    JEL: F22 J15 K37 D85
    Date: 2022
  2. By: Desmond Ang; Panka Bencsik; Jesse Bruhn; Ellora Derenoncourt
    Abstract: How do high-profile acts of police brutality affect public trust and cooperation with law enforcement? To investigate this question, we develop a new measure of civilian crime reporting that isolates changes in community engagement with police from underlying changes in crime: the ratio of police-related 911 calls to gunshots detected by ShotSpotter technology. Examining detailed data from eight major American cities, we show a sharp drop in both the call-to-shot ratio and 911 call volume immediately after the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Notably, reporting rates decreased significantly in both non-white and white neighborhoods across the country. These effects persist for several months, and we find little evidence that they were reversed by the conviction of FloydÕs murderer. Together, the results illustrate how acts of police violence may destroy a key input into effective law enforcement and public safety: civilian engagement and reporting.
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Tanguy Bernard (GREThA - Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée - UB - Université de Bordeaux - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Pia Naima DÄnzer; Markus Frölich; Andreas Landmann; Angelino Viceisza; Fleur Wouterse
    Abstract: Trust is considered an important factor for successful collective action in groups of smallholder farmers. A prime example is collective commercialization of agricultural produce through producer organizations. While previous research has focused on trust as an exogenous determinant of participation in groups, this article tests whether trust within existing groups can be improved using a training program. We conduct a cluster-randomized controlled trial in rural Senegal to identify the effects of training members and/or leaders with respect to commercialization on intragroup trust. Our design allows identifying both direct treatment effects of having participated in the training and spillover effects on farmers who did not partake. Looking at different measures of trust in leaders' competence and motives and of trust in members, we find that participating in the training significantly enhances both trust in leaders and trust in members. For trust in leaders, we also find a strong spillover effect. Our findings suggest that relatively soft and noncostly interventions such as group training appear to positively affect trust within producer organizations.
    Keywords: rural producer organizations,Senegal,trust
    Date: 2021–09–10
  4. By: Pedro Forquesato
    Abstract: A main issue in improving public sector efficiency is to understand to what extent public appointments are based on worker capability, instead of being used to reward political supporters (patronage). I contribute to a recent literature documenting patronage in public sector employment by establishing what type of workers benefit the most from political connections. Under the (empirically supported) assumption that in close elections the result of the election is as good as random, I estimate a causal forest to identify heterogeneity in the conditional average treatment effect of being affiliated to the party of the winning mayor. Contrary to previous literature, for most positions we find positive selection on education, but a negative selection on (estimated) ability. Overall, unemployed workers or low tenure employees that are newly affiliated to the winning candidate's party benefit the most from political connections, suggesting that those are used for patronage.
    Date: 2022–04
  5. By: Guglielmo Briscese; Maddalena Grignani; Stephen Stapleton
    Abstract: Crises can cause important societal changes by shifting citizens' preferences and beliefs, but how such change happens remains an open question. Following a representative sample of Americans in a longitudinal multi-wave survey throughout 2020, we find that citizens reduced trust in public institutions and became more supportive of government spending after being directly impacted by the crisis, such as when they lost a sizeable portion of their income or knew someone hospitalized with the virus. These shifts occurred very rapidly, sometimes in a matter of weeks, and persisted over time. We also record an increase in the partisan gap on the same outcomes, which can be largely explained by misperceptions about the crisis inflated by the consumption of partisan leaning news. In an experiment, we expose respondents to the same source of information and find that it successfully recalibrates perceptions, with persistent effects. We complement our analysis by employing machine learning to estimate heterogeneous treatment effects, and show that our findings are robust to several specifications and estimation strategies. In sum, both lived experiences and media inflated misperceptions can alter citizens' beliefs rapidly during a crisis.
    Date: 2022–02
  6. By: Su-Min; Alexandru
    Abstract: Why has geographical political polarisation increased in recent times? We propose a theoretical social learning mechanism whereby policy preferences become more homogeneous within geographical units, yet increasingly heterogeneous between units over time as voters become better informed on the views of those in their vicinity. To study our model’s predictions, we exploit the delayed implementation of Brexit and its salience in the elections following the 2016 referendum. Analysing constituency-level longitudinal-data, we find that voters updated their Brexit views after observing the referendum’s local results, and acted upon their new beliefs in the following elections. We document a two percentage-point relative decrease in the (anti-Brexit) Liberal Democrat vote share in constituencies where Leave narrowly won, mirrored by an increase for the Conservatives. Our findings have implications for how group-based identities form more broadly.
    Keywords: Elections, Brexit, Local Contextual Effects, Information, Social Learning, Political Attitudes
    JEL: D71 D72
    Date: 2022–04–11
  7. By: Joan Costa-i-Font; Martin Ljunge
    Abstract: Ideological spillovers refer to the modification of an individual’s core beliefs after learning about other people’s beliefs. We study one specific international ideological spillover, namely, the effect of the unexpected election of a United States (US) president (Donald Trump on the 9th of November 2016), who openly questioned the so-called ‘core liberal consensuses, on European’s core political beliefs. Using a regression discontinuity design (RDD) around the election event, we show that the Trump presidential election (TPE) gave rise to a ‘backlash effect’. That is, it steered core European beliefs in two specific domains, making Europeans more favourable to globalisation and international mobility (about 10% change in the overall Likert scale range of the statement that immigrants contribute to a country). Contrasting with the hypotheses of ‘belief contagion’, we do not find evidence that TPE steered illiberal beliefs. Furthermore, TPE improved (deteriorated) the view Europeans have of their own country (the United States).
    Keywords: political shocks, belief formation, information spillovers, backlash effect, pluralistic ignorance, Trump presidential election, political beliefs, the social formation of beliefs
    JEL: P16 D72 F50 Z10
    Date: 2022

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