nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2022‒05‒30
nine papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. The Origins of Elite Persistence: Evidence from Political Purges in post-World War II France By Toke S. Aidt; Jean Lacroix; Pierre-Guillaume Méon
  2. Social distancing beliefs and human mobility: Evidence from Twitter By Simon Porcher; Thomas Renault
  3. Altruism Begets Altruism By Stephanie A. Heger; Robert Slonim
  4. Are Gender Norms Systematic to Caste Institutions? Examining preferences through a Social Experiment in North Indian Villages. By Aparajita Dasgupta; Ashokankur Datta
  5. Group Identities Make Fragile Tipping Points By Sönke Ehret; Sara M. Constantino; Elke U. Weber; Charles Efferson; Sonja Vogt
  6. Conflict, Civil Wars and Human Development By Dominic Rohner
  7. Does Friendship Stem from Altruism? Adam Smith and the Distinction between Love-based and Interest-based Preferences By Khalil, Elias
  8. Trust and monetary policy By Paul De Grauwe; Yuemei Ji
  9. Instinctive versus reflective trust in the European Central Bank By Angino, Siria; Secola, Stefania

  1. By: Toke S. Aidt (Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge); Jean Lacroix (Université Paris-Saclay, Faculté Jean Monnet, RITM); Pierre-Guillaume Méon (Centre Emile Bernheim, Université libre de Bruxelles)
    Abstract: This paper studies a new mechanism that allows political elites from a non-democratic regime to survive a democratic transition: connections. We document this mechanism in the transition from the Vichy regime to democracy in post-World War II France. The parliamentarians who had supported the Vichy regime were purged in a two-stage process where each case was judged twice by two di erent courts. Using a di erence-in-di erences strategy, we show that Law graduates, a powerful social group in French politics with strong connections to one of the two courts, had a clearance rate that was 10 percentage points higher than others. This facilitated the persistence of that elite group. A systematic analysis of 17,589 documents from the defendants' dossiers is consistent with the hypothesis that the connections of Law graduates to one of the two courts were a major driver of their ability to avoid the purge. We consider and rule out alternative mechanisms.
    Keywords: Purges, Political transitions, Elite persistence, Connections
    JEL: D73 K40 N44 P48
    Date: 2022–05
  2. By: Simon Porcher (IAE Paris - Sorbonne Business School); Thomas Renault (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: We construct a novel database containing hundreds of thousands geotagged messages related to the COVID-19 pandemic sent on Twitter. We create a daily index of social distancing—at the state level—to capture social distancing beliefs by analyzing the number of tweets containing keywords such as "stay home", "stay safe", "wear mask", "wash hands" and "social distancing". We find that an increase in the Twitter index of social distancing on day t-1 is associated with a decrease in mobility on day t. We also find that state orders, an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, precipitation and temperature contribute to reducing human mobility. Republican states are also less likely to enforce social distancing. Beliefs shared on social networks could both reveal the behavior of individuals and influence the behavior of others. Our findings suggest that policy makers can use geotagged Twitter data—in conjunction with mobility data—to better understand individual voluntary social distancing actions.
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Stephanie A. Heger; Robert Slonim
    Abstract: Guided by Bem’s (1972) self-perception theory, we design an experiment to ask whether morally-motivated behaviour, e.g., charitable giving, is history-dependent. Using a popular policy nudge, the default option, we exogenously vary altruism “now” and show that giving “now” causes a 66%- 200% increase in the probability of giving “later”; that is, altruism begets altruism. We further show that, consistent with self-perception theory, the choice to behave altruistically “now”, rather than the nudge itself, is the crucial element in the causal relationship. These findings are consistent with a model of positive path-dependence, which we interpret as moral consistency.
    Keywords: altruism, nudge, moral consistency
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Aparajita Dasgupta (Ashoka University); Ashokankur Datta (Shiv Nadar University)
    Abstract: In this paper we examine how traditional institutions like caste interact with socioeconomic status to mediate the perception of gender roles and attitudes around female labour force participation. We use third party vignettes to directly test the validity of the hypothesis that lower castes have more egalitarian gender norms and lower acceptance of restrictions on female autonomy. We find that the relationship between conservative gender norms and caste are in turn influenced by the class status of households, measured by land or asset ownership. Lastly, we conduct a simple social experiment to test for ‘pluralistic ignorance’ and confirm the presence of systematic overestimation of conservative attitude that varies by caste and class identities.
    Date: 2022–04–29
  5. By: Sönke Ehret; Sara M. Constantino; Elke U. Weber; Charles Efferson; Sonja Vogt
    Abstract: Social tipping can accelerate beneficial changes in behaviour in diverse domains from equality and social justice to climate change. Hypothetically, however, group identities might undermine tipping in ways policy makers do not anticipate. To examine this, we implemented an experiment around the 2020 U.S. elections. Participants faced consistent incentives to coordinate their choices. Once participants had established a coordination norm, an intervention created pressure to tip to a new norm. Our control treatment used neutral labels for choices. Our identity treatment used partisan political images. This simple payoff-irrelevant relabelling generated extreme differences. Control groups developed norms slowly before intervention but transitioned to new norms rapidly after intervention. Identity groups developed norms rapidly before intervention but persisted in a state of costly disagreement after intervention. Tipping was powerful but fragile. It supported striking cultural changes when choices and identity were unlinked, but even a trivial link destroyed tipping entirely.
    Keywords: social tipping, cultural evolution, behaviour change, coordination
    JEL: Z10 Z13 Z18
    Date: 2022
  6. By: Dominic Rohner
    Abstract: Conflicts such as civil wars have manifold negative consequences on human development. In this survey article the existing literature is reviewed on the impact of conflict on educational attainment, health outcomes, inter-group trust and generalized social capital, as well as economic outcomes. It is stressed that four dimensions of adverse consequences from war exposure can give birth to four corresponding vicious cycles and war traps. Finally, a series of policies for peace are discussed, including policies that boost productivity and human capital accumulation, that foster inter-group trust and interaction, and that strengthen democratic institutions and governance.
    Date: 2022–04
  7. By: Khalil, Elias
    Abstract: Friendship-and-love expresses musings about wellbeing—while “wellbeing” is the economist’s substantive satisfaction. Insofar as altruism is about wellbeing, it must differ from friendship-and-love. However, what is the basis of the difference between substantive satisfaction and friendship-and-love? The answer can be found in Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, chapter 2: how “mutual sympathy” differs from “sympathy.” Smith scholars generally miss the uniqueness of “mutual sympathy” and, indeed, fold it under Smith’s “sympathy” (and “empathy”)—with one exception. Robert Sugden highlights the uniqueness of mutual sympathy. However, he goes to the other end, i.e., folds it under Smith’s sympathy-and-empathy”. This paper aims to avoid the folding in either direction. While mutual sympathy originates love-based sociality (friendship-and-love), sympathy-and-empathy originates interest-based sociality (wellbeing that includes altruism). This paper concludes that friendship is neither reducible to altruism nor vice versa. Further, this paper distinguishes this problem from the question regarding the socialization of the individual.
    Date: 2022–04–09
  8. By: Paul De Grauwe; Yuemei Ji
    Abstract: We analyze how trust affects the transmission of negative demand and supply shocks. We define trust to have two dimensions: there is trust in the central bank’s inflation target and trust in the future of economic activity. We use a behavioural macroeconomic model that is characterized by the fact that individuals lack the cognitive ability to understand the underlying model and to know the distribution of the shocks that hit the economy. We find, first, that when large negative demand shocks occur the subsequent trajectories taken by output gap and inflation typically coalesce around a good and a bad trajectory. Second, these good and bad trajectories are correlated with movements in trust. In the bad trajectories trust collapses, in the good trajectories it is not affected. This feature is stronger when a negative supply shock occurs than in the case of a negative demand shock. Third, initial conditions (history) matters. Unfavorable initial conditions drive the economy into a bad trajectory, favorable initial conditions produce good trajectories.
    Date: 2022–05
  9. By: Angino, Siria; Secola, Stefania
    Abstract: Political science research has established that trust in institutions, including central banks, is shaped by socio-economic and demographic factors, as well as by the assessment of institutional features and by slow-moving components such as culture. However, the role of cognitive processes has largely been neglected, especially in the analysis of central bank trust. In this paper we aim to address this gap focusing on the case of the European Central Bank (ECB). We introduce the concepts of “instinctive trust”, which captures an on-the-spot judgement on the institution’s trustworthiness, and of “reflective trust”, which refers to a more pondered opinion on the matter. Using a survey experiment, we find that deeper consideration about the ECB promotes less trust in the institution compared to an on-the-spot judgement. This result is mainly driven by women, and in particular by those who say they possess a low understanding of the central bank’s policies. JEL Classification: C83, D83, E58, Z13
    Keywords: central bank, Institutional trust, survey experiment
    Date: 2022–05

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.