nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2022‒06‒13
eleven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Social Recognition: Experimental Evidence from Blood Donors By Lorenz Götte; Egon Tripodi
  2. Organizing Crime: an Empirical Analysis of the Sicilian Mafia By Michele Battisti; Andrea Mario Lavezzi; Roberto Musotto
  3. Weather to Protest: The Effect of Black Lives Matter Protests on the 2020 Presidential Election By Bouke Klein Teeselink; Georgios Melios
  4. A Dynamic Analysis of Criminal Networks By Luca Colombo; Paola Labrecciosa; Agnieszka Rusinowska
  5. Trust Can Be Learned. Order of moves and agents' behavior in two trust game By Mario A. Maggioni; Domenico Rossignoli
  6. Witchcraft Beliefs Around the World: An Exploratory Analysis By Boris Gershman
  7. Prejudice: Xenophobia, Homophobia, and Patriarchy in the World By Borooah, Vani
  8. Morals as Luxury Goods and Political Polarization By Benjamin Enke; Mattias Polborn; Alex Wu
  9. How long do voluntary lockdowns keep people at home? The role of social capital during the COVID-19 pandemic By Yuta Kuroda; Takaki Sato; Yasumasa Matsuda
  10. Faith and Assimilation: Italian Immigrants in the US By Stefano Gagliarducci; Marco Tabellini
  11. Is the Price Right? The Role of Morals, Ideology, and Tradeoff Thinking in Explaining Reactions to Price Surges By Julio Elias; Nicola Lacetera; Mario Macis

  1. By: Lorenz Götte; Egon Tripodi
    Abstract: Does social recognition motivate prosocial individuals? We run large-scale experiments among members of Italy’s main blood donors association, testing social recognition both through social media and peer groups. We experimentally disentangle visibility concerns and peer comparisons, and we study how exposure to different norms of behavior affects giving. In an initial study and two subsequent replications, we find that a simple ask to donate is at least as effective as asks that offer social recognition. A survey experiment with blood donors provides consistent evidence that social recognition backfires when offered to good citizens, as signaling focuses on image motivation. Our results caution against over-reliance on social recognition to promote good citizenship and emphasize the importance of surveying beliefs in the target population to anticipate the outcomes of a policy at scale.
    Keywords: prosocial behaviour, blood donations, social recognition, field experiments, social media, WhatsApp
    Date: 2022
  2. By: Michele Battisti; Andrea Mario Lavezzi; Roberto Musotto
    Abstract: In this article we study the organizational structure of a large group of members of the Sicilian Mafia by means of social network analysis and an econometric analysis of link formation. Our mains results are the following. i) The Mafia network is a small-world network adjusted by its criminal nature, and is strongly disassortative. ii) Mafia bosses are not always central in the network. In particular, consistent with a prediction of Baccara and Bar-Isaac, we identify a "cell-dominated hierarchy" in the network: a key member is not central, but is connected to a relative with a central position. iii) The probability of link formation between two agents is higher if the two agents belong to the same Mandamento, if they share a high number of similar tasks, while being a "boss" reduces the probability of link formation between them. iv) The probability of link formation for an individual agent is higher if he is in charge of keeping connections outside his Mandamento, of collecting protection money and or having a directive role, while age has modest role. These results are interpreted in the light of the efficiency/security trade-off faced by the Mafia and of its known hierarchical structure.
    Date: 2022–05
  3. By: Bouke Klein Teeselink; Georgios Melios
    Abstract: Do mass mobilizations bring about social change? This paper investigates the impact of the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted after George Floyd’s death on the 2020 presidential election. Using local precipitation as an exogenous source of protest variation, we document a marked shift in support for the Democratic candidate in counties that experienced more protesting activity. We use a spatial two-stage least squares estimator, and show that conventional TSLS estimators overestimate the effect size by a factor three. Ancillary analyses show that the effect cannot be explained by changes in turnout. Instead, protests shifted people’s attitudes about racial disparities.
    Keywords: Collective Action; Black Lives Matter; Presidential Elections; Protests; IV
    JEL: D72 J15
    Date: 2022–05–22
  4. By: Luca Colombo (Deakin Business School - Department of Economics, Australia); Paola Labrecciosa (Monash Business School - Department of Economics, Australia); Agnieszka Rusinowska (CNRS, Paris School of Economics, Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne)
    Abstract: The paper presents a novel approach based on differential games to the study of criminal networks. We extend the static crime network game (Ballester et al., 2004, 2006) to a dynamic setting. First, we determine the relationship between the Markov Perfect Equilibrium (MPE) and the vector of Bonacich centralities. The established proportionality between the Nash equilibrium and the Bonacich centrality in the static game does not hold in general in the dynamic setting. Next, focusing on regular networks, we provide an explicit characterization of equilibrium strategies, and conduct comparative dynamic analysis with respect to the network size, network density, and implicit growth rate of total wealth in the economy. Contrary to the static game, where aggregate equilibrium increases with network size and density, in the dynamic setting, more criminals or more connected criminals can lead to a decrease in total crime, both in the short run and at the steady state. We also examine another novel issue in the network theory literature, i.e., the existence of a voracity effect, occuring when an increase in the implicit growth rate of total wealth in the economy lowers economic growth. We do identify the presence of such a voracity effect in our setting
    Keywords: differential games; Markov Perfect Equilibrium; social networks; criminal networks; Bonacich centrality
    JEL: C73 D85 K42
    Date: 2022–02
  5. By: Mario A. Maggioni; Domenico Rossignoli
    Abstract: In this paper, we devise a randomized experiment to test whether the order of play in two Trust Games influences the observed level of trust displayed by Trustors (as measured by the share of endowment sent to Trustees). We find that playing Trustor in the second game increases the average share sent to the Trustee. We suggest a role for information acquisitions and learning due to the different order in which subjects play the Trustor role.
    JEL: C91 D83 D91
    Date: 2022
  6. By: Boris Gershman
    Abstract: This paper presents a new global dataset on contemporary witchcraft beliefs and investigates their correlates. Witchcraft beliefs cut across socio-demographic groups but are less widespread among the more educated and economically secure. Country-level variation in the prevalence of witchcraft beliefs is systematically linked to a number of cultural, institutional, psychological, and socioeconomic characteristics. Consistent with their hypothesized function of maintaining order and cohesion in the absence of effective governance mechanisms, witchcraft beliefs are more widespread in countries with weak institutions and correlate positively with conformist culture and in-group bias. Among the documented potential costs of witchcraft beliefs are disrupted social relations, high levels of anxiety, pessimistic worldview, lack of entrepreneurial culture and innovative activity.
    Keywords: Conformity, Culture, Development, Happiness, Innovation, Institutions, Religion, Social capital, Witchcraft beliefs
    JEL: I31 O10 O31 O43 O57 Z10 Z12 Z13
    Date: 2022
  7. By: Borooah, Vani
    Abstract: The raison d’être of this paper is to develop measures for xenophobia, homophobia, and patriarchy and, in so doing, to provide systematic information about the degree of prejudice against certain groups (foreigners, homosexuals, women) — in particular, whether prejudice differs by the world’s regions and religions, and between the groups that are the target of prejudice. Furthermore, the chapter enquires about the characteristics of persons — apart from their religion and region — that make for prejudice, or a lack of it. In developing the analysis, this chapter makes several conceptual contributions. It advances the concept of a “xenophobia score” which is used to measure the amount of xenophobia in different regions of the world. It links homophobia to attitudes towards homosexuality. Lastly, it examines dissonance between men and women in their views about gender equality and, in so doing, measures the amount of “gender tension” among adherents of different religions and denizens of different regions. Underpinning this analysis is a multivariate analysis of xenophobia, homophobia, and patriarchy. This allows one to answer questions that are of considerable societal importance: are women more liberal than men in their attitude towards foreigners and homosexuals? Do women seek greater equality than men are prepared to concede?
    Keywords: Prejudice, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny
    JEL: I3 I31 J71
    Date: 2021
  8. By: Benjamin Enke; Mattias Polborn; Alex Wu
    Abstract: This paper develops a theory of political behavior in which moral values are a luxury good: the relative weight that voters place on moral rather than material considerations increases in income. This idea both generates new testable implications and ties together a broad set of empirical regularities about political polarization in the U.S. The model predicts (i) the emergence of economically left-wing elites; (ii) that more rich than poor people vote against their material interests; (iii) that within-party heterogeneity is larger among Democrats than Republicans; and (iv) widely-discussed realignment patterns: rich moral liberals who swing Democrat, and poor moral conservatives who swing Republican. Assuming that parties set policies by aggregating their supporters’ preferences, the model also predicts increasing social party polarization over time, such that poor moral conservatives swing Republican even though their relative incomes decreased. We relate these predictions to known stylized facts, and test our new predictions empirically.
    JEL: D03 D72
    Date: 2022–04
  9. By: Yuta Kuroda; Takaki Sato; Yasumasa Matsuda
    Abstract: We create a city-by-day-level mobility index for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic from data on over 80 million mobile devices to analyze how social distancing compliance varies with social capital levels. We find that in the second year of the pandemic, both voluntary preventative activities and policy compliance were substantially reduced in areas with low levels of social capital but not in areas with high levels of social capital. Additionally, in Japan, mobility was clearly reduced among those supporting a majority party, and there is little heterogeneity by political preference as related to ideology or position. This suggests that valuing conformity with others is an important driver of behavior that is beneficial to the community.
    Date: 2022–05
  10. By: Stefano Gagliarducci; Marco Tabellini
    Abstract: How do ethnic religious organizations influence immigrants’ assimilation in host societies? This paper offers the first systematic answer to this question by focusing on Italian Catholic churches in the US between 1890 and 1920, when four million Italians moved to America, and anti-Catholic sentiments were widespread. Relying on newly collected data on the presence of Italian Catholic churches across counties over time, we implement a difference-in-differences design. We find that Italian churches reduced the social assimilation of Italian immigrants, lowering intermarriage, residential integration, and naturalization rates. We provide evidence that stronger coordination within the Italian community and natives' backlash and negative stereotyping can explain these effects. Despite the negative effects on Italians' social assimilation, Italian churches had ambiguous effects on immigrants' economic outcomes, and increased children's literacy and ability to speak English.
    JEL: J15 N31 Z12
    Date: 2022–04
  11. By: Julio Elias; Nicola Lacetera; Mario Macis
    Abstract: Price surges often generate social disapproval and requests for regulation and price controls, but these interventions may cause inefficiencies and shortages. To study how individuals perceive and reason about sudden price increases for different products under different policy regimes, we conduct a survey experiment with Canadian and U.S. residents. Econometric and textual analyses indicate that prices are not seen just as signals of scarcity; they cause widespread opposition and strong and polarized moral reactions. However, acceptance of unregulated prices is higher when potential economic tradeoffs between unregulated and controlled prices are salient and when higher production costs contribute to the price increases. The salience of tradeoffs also reduces the polarization of moral judgments between supporters and opponents of unregulated pricing. In part, the acceptance of free price adjustments is driven by people’s overall attitudes about the function of markets and the government in society. These findings are corroborated by a donation experiment, and they suggest that awareness of the causes and potential consequences of price increases may induce less extreme views about the role of market institutions in governing the economy.
    Keywords: price surges, price controls, preferences, morality, tradeoffs
    JEL: C91 D63 D91 I11
    Date: 2022

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