nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2022‒07‒18
eighteen papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Norms, enforcement, and tax evasion By Besley, Timothy; Jensen, Anders Ditlev; Persson, Torsten
  2. Empirical approaches to trust and relational contracts By Macchiavello, Rocco; Morjaria, Ameet
  3. Foreign Interventions and Community Cohesion in Times of Conflict By Sarah Langlotz
  4. Angry men and Civic women? Gendered effects of conflict on political participation By Julie Litchfield; Elodie Douarin; Fatlinda Gashi
  5. Improving trust and reciprocity in agricultural input markets: A lab-in-the-field experiment in Bangladesh By de Brauw, Alan; Kramer, Berber
  6. Key players in bullying networks By Ata Atay; Ana Mauleon; Simon Schopohl; Vincent Vannetelbosch
  7. Hindsight Bias and Trust in Government: Evidence from the United States By Holger Herz; Deborah Kistler; Christian Zehnder; Christian Zihlmann
  8. The Slippery Slope from Pluralistic to Plural Societies By Nicola Campigotto; Chiara Rapallini; Aldo Rustichini
  9. The Political Effects of Immigration: Culture or Economics? By Alberto Alesina; Marco Tabellini
  10. Learning in Canonical Networks By Choi, S.; Goyal, S.; Moisan, F.; To, Y. Y. T.
  11. Loneliness and health of older adults: The role of cultural heritage and relationship quality By Casabianca, Elizabeth; Kovacic, Matija
  12. Gender Pay Gap across Cultures By Natasha Burns; Kristina Minnick; Jeffry Netter; Laura Starks
  13. Identifying Politically Connected Firms: A Machine Learning Approach By Deni Mazrekaj; Vitezslav Titl; Fritz Schiltz
  14. How Do Gender Norms Shape Education and Domestic Work Outcomes? The Case of Syrian Refugee Adolescents in Jordan By Caroline Krafft; Ragui Assaad; Isabel Pastoor
  15. Can Child Marriage Law Affect Attitudes and Behaviour in the Absence of Strict Enforcement? Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh By Amirapu, Amrit; Asadullah, M Niaz; Wahhaj, Zaki
  16. Yes They Can: Genocide, Political Participation, and Female Empowerment By Thorsten Rogall; Tatiana Zárate-Barrera
  17. Social distancing beliefs and human mobility: Evidence from Twitter By Simon Porcher; Thomas Renault
  18. Recidivism and neighborhood institutions: evidence from the rise of the evangelical church in Chile By Andrés Barrios Fernández; Jorge Garcia-Hombrados

  1. By: Besley, Timothy; Jensen, Anders Ditlev; Persson, Torsten
    Abstract: This paper studies individual and social motives in tax evasion. We build a simple dynamic model that incorporates these motives and their interaction. The social motives underpin the role of norms and is the source of the dynamics that we study. Our empirical analysis exploits the adoption in 1990 of a poll tax to fund local government in the UK, which led to widespread evasion. The evidence is consistent with the model's main predictions on the dynamics of evasion.
    JEL: J1 C1
    Date: 2021–10–15
  2. By: Macchiavello, Rocco; Morjaria, Ameet
    Abstract: Broadly speaking, economists have studied trust in two somewhat distinct ways. One approach is best captured by notions of generalized trust; another approach places trust at the core of relational contracts. After reviewing two empirical approaches to the study of relational contracts, we provide a preliminary attempt to bridge these two strands of the literature in the context of Rwanda’s coffee supply chain.
    Keywords: Relational Contracts; Trust; ERC Consolidator Grant Sharing Gains; IGC; EDI; GPRL at Northwestern; Elsevier deal
    JEL: J1 R14 J01
    Date: 2022–05–11
  3. By: Sarah Langlotz (University of Göttingen)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes how foreign military interventions affect community cohesion in times of conflict. In an environment where formal institutions are unstable or lacking, the community and local informal institutions become more important for households to cope with various shocks. At the same time, the success of foreign interventions crucially depends on cohesion within communities as they are relevant partners in counterinsurgency and reconstruction activities. I exploit a geographic regression discontinuity for the case of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. The findings suggest that the presence of foreign military forces negatively affects community cohesion. Households receive less help from others in their community and are less likely to participate in or rely on local community councils. These effects seem to be driven by a general erosion of trust.
    Keywords: Conflict, foreign military interventions, security missions, social cohesion, informal institutions, Afghanistan
    JEL: D74 D79 F51 O12 O53
    Date: 2021–10
  4. By: Julie Litchfield (Department of Economics, University of Sussex); Elodie Douarin (School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London); Fatlinda Gashi (Department of Economics, University of Sussex)
    Abstract: We study the effect of the 1998-99 Kosovo war on current levels of political participation, disaggregating our analysis by the type of conflict experience, namely death or injury to self or a family member, or displacement, and by gender. We show that conflict is associated with more political participation, but with important distinctions between genders in terms of the form of participation and the experience itself. Displacement is associated with more voting among women, but not among men, and with more demonstrating by men but weaker or no effects for women; death and injury are associated with more political party membership for men, but not women. We argue that while experiences of conflict do generally increase levels of political participation, the form that this takes varies by gender, with effects on private, civic, action among women, and effects on direct, public, active, arguably more emotionally heightened engagement among men.
    Keywords: conflict, political participation, gender
    JEL: D74 O17 Z13
    Date: 2021–10
  5. By: de Brauw, Alan; Kramer, Berber
    Abstract: Adoption of high-quality yet more expensive agricultural inputs remains low, in part because most inputs are experience goods: before purchase, buyers observe only price—not quality—providing sellers with opportunities to cheat on quality. Our lab-in-the-field experiment in Bangladesh replicates markets for such inputs, with input retailers (sellers) choosing price and quality, and farmers (buyers) choosing from which seller to purchase inputs. We analyze market behavior, including buyers’ trust and sellers’ reciprocity, and study the effects of buyer-driven accreditation and loyalty rewards for accredited sellers of high-quality products. Trust and reciprocity remain low: Sellers provide mostly low-quality products, and buyers reveal low demand for more expensive, high-quality inputs. Accrediting sellers when their buyers are satisfied leads to higher input quality and more repeat purchases, but only when combined with loyalty rewards, because buyers’ quality signals are weak and do not incentivize sellers to change their behavior. We conclude that small incentives are effective at improving seller behavior, but this behavior change does not necessarily enhance quality signals and farmer welfare.
    Keywords: BANGLADESH; SOUTH ASIA; ASIA; farm inputs; markets; field experimentation; behaviour; consumer behaviour; merchants; trust; reciprocity
    Date: 2022
  6. By: Ata Atay (Universitat de Barcelona and BEAT); Ana Mauleon (CEREC, UCLouvain Saint-Louis Brussels and CORE/LIDAM, UCLouvain, Belgium); Simon Schopohl (CEREC, UCLouvain Saint-Louis Brussels, Belgium); Vincent Vannetelbosch (CORE/LIDAM, UCLouvain, Belgium)
    Abstract: Individuals are embedded in a network of relationships and they can be victims, bystanders, or perpetrators of bullying and harassment. Each individual decides noncooperatively how much effort to exert in preventing misbehavior. Each individual's optimal effort depends on the contextual effect, the social multiplier effect and the social conformity effect. We characterize the Nash equilibrium and we derive an inter-centrality measure for finding the key player who once isolated increases the most the aggregate effort. An individual is more likely to be the key player if she is influencing many other individuals, she is exerting a low effort because of her characteristics, and her neighbors are strongly influenced by her. The key player policy increases substantially the aggregate effort and the targeted player should never be selected randomly. The key player is likely to remain the key player in presence of social workers except if she is becoming much less influential due to her closeness to social workers. Finally, we consider alternative policies (e.g. training bystanders for helping victims) and compare them to the policy of isolating the key player.
    Keywords: Social networks, bullying, harassment, peer effects, key player, conformity,
    JEL: A14 C72 D85 Z13
    Date: 2022
  7. By: Holger Herz; Deborah Kistler; Christian Zehnder; Christian Zihlmann
    Abstract: We empirically assess whether hindsight bias has consequences on how citizens evaluate their political actors. Using an incentivized elicitation technique, we demonstrate that people systematically misremember their past policy preferences regarding how to best fight the Covid-19 pandemic. At the peak of the first wave in the United States, the average respondent mistakenly believes they supported significantly stricter restrictions at the onset of the first wave than they actually did. Exogenous variation in the extent of hindsight bias, induced through random assignment to survey structures, allows us to show that hindsight bias causally reduces trust in government.
    Keywords: hindsight bias, trust in government, evaluation distortion, biased beliefs
    JEL: D72 D83 D91
    Date: 2022
  8. By: Nicola Campigotto; Chiara Rapallini; Aldo Rustichini
    Abstract: Academic consensus about normative prescriptions on the ethnic and cultural composition of societies has been shifting in recent decades. It has evolved from what seemed desirable but was acknowledged to be unrealistic (the noble idea of a melting pot), to what is realistic because it has already happened, but might be undesirable in the long run: the multicultural diaspora. Plural societies, an unintended consequence of multiculturalism, lurk in the background. Thus scholars of social and economic questions, as well as societies, face a threehorned dilemma. We throw some light on the dilemma by examining school friendship networks in five European countries with recent immigration. Our results highlight the force of elective affinities in overcoming differences, but they also point to the countervailing forces of elective discordance that are currently driving increasing division.
    Keywords: Friendship; Homophily; Immigration; Networks; Social cohesion.
    JEL: D85 J15 Z13
    Date: 2022
  9. By: Alberto Alesina; Marco Tabellini
    Abstract: We review the growing literature on the political economy of immigration. First, we discuss the effects of immigration on a wide range of political and social outcomes. The existing evidence suggests that immigrants often, but not always, trigger backlash, increasing support for anti-immigrant parties and lowering preferences for redistribution and diversity among natives. Next, we unpack the channels behind the political effects of immigration, distinguishing between economic and non-economic forces. In examining the mechanisms, we highlight important mediating factors, such as misperceptions, the media, and the conditions under which inter-group contact occurs. We also outline promising avenues for future research.
    JEL: D72 J15 J61 Z1
    Date: 2022–05
  10. By: Choi, S.; Goyal, S.; Moisan, F.; To, Y. Y. T.
    Abstract: Subjects observe a private signal and then make an initial guess; they observe their neighbors’ guesses and guess again, and so forth. We study learning dynamics in three networks: Erdös-Rényi, Stochastic Block (reflecting homophily) and Royal Family (that accommodates both highly connected celebrities and local intearctions). We find that the Royal Family network is more likely to sustain incorrect consensus and that the Stochastic Block network is more likely to persist with diverse beliefs. These aggregate patterns are consistent with individuals following DeGroot updating rule.
    Keywords: consensus, experimental social science, social learning, social networks
    JEL: C91 C92 D83 D85
    Date: 2022–06–01
  11. By: Casabianca, Elizabeth (European Commission); Kovacic, Matija (European Commission)
    Abstract: We estimate the direct causal effect of loneliness on a variety of health outcomes using a sample of second-generation immigrants among older adults drawn from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. In an effort to account for the endogeneity of self-declared loneliness, we explore the link between loneliness and a specific trait of maternal cultural background strongly associated with quality of relations and use the latter as an instrument for loneliness. We thus also assess the importance of cultural heritage in shaping individuals' perceptions of loneliness. Additionally, we investigate one pathway by which some specific ancestral factors may influence the formation of cultural traits in the modern era. Our results suggest that loneliness has a significant impact on health, both mental and physical. Notably, our identification strategy allows us to uncover a larger effect of loneliness on health than that found in an OLS setting. These findings are robust to a battery of sensitivity checks.
    Keywords: Loneliness, relationship quality, culture, mental health, physical health
    JEL: I12 I14 J14 D91 Z13
    Date: 2022–05
  12. By: Natasha Burns; Kristina Minnick; Jeffry Netter; Laura Starks
    Abstract: We employ a cross-country sample to examine whether cultural differences help explain gender compensation variations across corporate executives. The results show that the cultural differences, which are embedded in societies from long prior to the compensation decisions, provide significant explanatory power to the observed gender gap in executive compensation. Using an Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition with variables that have previously been shown to be significant determinants of executive compensation, we find that adding cultural measures to the model increases the explanatory power from 44% to 95% of the gender compensation gap.
    JEL: J71
    Date: 2022–06
  13. By: Deni Mazrekaj; Vitezslav Titl; Fritz Schiltz
    Abstract: This article introduces machine learning techniques to identify politically connected firms. By assembling information from publicly available sources and the Orbis company database, we constructed a novel firm population dataset from Czechia in which various forms of political connections can be determined. The data about firms’ connections are unique and comprehensive. They include political donations by the firm, having members of managerial boards who donated to a political party, and having members of boards who ran for political office. The results indicate that over 85% of firms with political connections can be accurately identified by the proposed algorithms. The model obtains this high accuracy by using only firm-level financial and industry indicators that are widely available in most countries. We propose that machine learning algorithms should be used by public institutions to identify politically connected firms with potentially large conflicts of interests, and we provide easy to implement R code to replicate our results.
    Keywords: Political Connections, Corruption, Prediction, Machine Learning
    Date: 2021
  14. By: Caroline Krafft (Department of Economics and Political Science, St. Catherine University); Ragui Assaad (Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota); Isabel Pastoor (Department of Economics and Political Science, St. Catherine University)
    Abstract: Forced displacement has disrupted Syrian refugees' lives and exposed them to new communities and norms. This paper assesses how gender norms shape the lives of Syrian refugee adolescent girls in Jordan, using nationally representative data. Factor analysis is used to summarize a variety of beliefs and behavioral aspects of norms: gender role attitudes, justification of domestic violence, decision making, and mobility. The paper compares these outcomes by sex, nationality, and for adolescents versus adults. It complements the data on individual beliefs and behaviors with family and community beliefs and behaviors as proxies for others' expectations and behaviors. The paper then examines how own, family, and community gender norms relate to two key adolescent outcomes: domestic work and enrollment in school. The findings show that while gender role attitudes are similar across generations and nationalities, Syrian adolescent girls are particularly restricted in their mobility. Nonetheless, they have similar educational outcomes as boys and, after accounting for differences in socioeconomic status, as Jordanian girls. While gender inequality in domestic work is substantial, higher levels of own and mother's decision making predict lower domestic workloads, illustrating the linkages between different dimensions of gender norms and social and economic outcomes.
    Keywords: Gender norms, Refugees, Education, Care work, Syrians, Jordan
    JEL: J16 J22 I24 F22 F51
    Date: 2021–12
  15. By: Amirapu, Amrit; Asadullah, M Niaz; Wahhaj, Zaki
    Abstract: In developing countries, one in four girls is married before turning 18, with adverse consequences for their own and their children's human capital. In this paper, we investigate whether laws can affect attitudes and behaviour towards child marriage - in a context in which the laws are not strictly enforced. We do so using a randomised video-based information intervention that aimed to accelerate knowledge transmission about a new child marriage law in Bangladesh that introduced harsher punishments for facilitating early marriage. Follow-up surveys documented an increase in early marriage among treated households if the father or family elders received the information. The findings allow us to distinguish between two competing theoretical channels underlying the effect of legal change and highlight the risk of backlash against laws that contradict traditional norms and practices.
    Keywords: age of marriage,social norms,formal institutions,legal change
    JEL: J12 J16 K36
    Date: 2022
  16. By: Thorsten Rogall (Economics Department, University of British Columbia); Tatiana Zárate-Barrera (Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia)
    Abstract: We study how genocide can lead to female empowerment, using data from Rwanda. We exploit exogenous variation in transport costs that affected the number of militiamen arriving in each village. We find that in high-violence villages, women are healthier, better educated, wealthier, hold more decision-making power, are less likely to accept and experience domestic violence, work in better jobs, and enjoy more sexual and financial autonomy. In terms of mechanisms, gender imbalances –generated by the militias targeting men –caused a power vacuum that women filled as household heads and local politicians. In office, they provide more public goods. Finally, it seems that younger women are carrying these changes and that gender norms changed. To corroborate the importance of the initial gender imbalance, we exploit exogenous variation in RTLM radio reception. Radio-induced violence targeted women. Given the male surplus, we find negative or no effects on female outcomes.
    Keywords: Political Mass Killings, Genocide, Ethnic Conflict, Political Participation, Public Goods Provision, Gender Norms, Domestic Violence
    JEL: D72 D74 J16
    Date: 2020–11
  17. 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
  18. By: Andrés Barrios Fernández; Jorge Garcia-Hombrados
    Abstract: Rehabilitating convicted criminals is challenging; indeed, an important share of them return to prison only a few years after their release. Thus, finding effective ways of encouraging crime desistance, particularly among young individuals, has become an important policy goal to reduce crime and incarceration rates. This paper provides causal evidence that the local institutions of the neighborhood that receives young individuals after prison matter. Specifically, we show that the opening of an Evangelical church reduces twelve-months re-incarceration rates among property crime offenders by more than 10 percentage points. This effect represents a drop of 16% in the probability of returning to prison for this group of individuals. We find smaller and less precise effects for more severe types of crime. We discuss two classes of mechanisms that could explain our results: religiosity and social support. We provide evidence that the social support provided by evangelical churches is an important driver of our findings. This suggests that non-religious local institutions could also play an important role in the rehabilitation of former inmates.
    Keywords: crime desistance, recidivism, religion
    Date: 2021–05–21

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