nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2022‒10‒10
seven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. First Generation Elite: The Role of School Networks By Sarah Cattan; Kjell Salvanes; Emma Tominey
  2. Social Media and Mental Health By Braghieri, Luca; Levy, Ro'ee; Makarin, Alexey
  3. What Feeds on What? Networks of Interdependencies between Culture and Institutions By Nadia von Jacobi; Vito Amendolagine
  4. Charitable Giving by the Poor A Field Experiment in Kyrgyzstan By Adena, Maja; Hakimov, Rustamdjan; Huck, Steffen
  5. Network effects or rent extraction? Evidence from editorial board rotation. By Lorenzo Ductor; Bauke Visser
  6. COVID-19 and Pro-Sociality: How Do Donors Respond to Local Pandemic Severity, Increased Salience, and Media Coverage? By Adena, Maja; Harke, Julian
  7. Depression and Loneliness Among the Elderly Poor By Abhijit Banerjee; Esther Duflo; Erin Grela; Madeline McKelway; Frank Schilbach; Garima Sharma; Girija Vaidyanathan

  1. By: Sarah Cattan (Institute for Fiscal Studies); Kjell Salvanes (Norges Handelshøyskole); Emma Tominey (University of York)
    Abstract: Intergenerational persistence in studying for elite education is high across the world. We study the role that exposure to high school peers from elite educated families (`elite peers') plays in driving such a phenomenon in Norway. Using register data on ten cohorts of high school students and exploiting within school, between cohort variation, we identify the causal impact of elite peers on the probability of enrolling in elite education for students from different socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds. We show that exposure to elite peers in high school does drive enrolment into elite degree programmes, but the effect for low SES students is a third of the size than for high SES students. We explore mechanisms behind this pattern – finding that elite peers have a complex effect on students’ GPA which is a key part of the story. Elite peers increase the effort of both low and high SES students, but they also push the rank of other students down and trigger a change in teacher behaviour which disadvantages low SES students. To quantify the contribution of this mechanism, we perform a causal mediation analysis exploiting a lottery in the assessment system in Norway to instrument GPA. We find that the indirect effect of elite peers on enrolment through GPA explains just less than half of the total peer effect. Our concluding analysis shows that elite peers in high school raises intergenerational mobility for poor students, but increases persistence for rich students, thereby simultaneously facilitating first generation elite whilst contributing to the high intergenerational persistence at the top of the education and income distribution.
    Keywords: peers, elite university, subject choice, social mobility, teacher bias
    JEL: I24 J24 J62
  2. By: Braghieri, Luca (LMU Munich); Levy, Ro'ee (MIT); Makarin, Alexey (EIEF and CEPR)
    Abstract: The diffusion of social media coincided with a worsening of mental health conditions among adolescents and young adults in the United States, giving rise to speculation that social media might be detrimental to mental health. In this paper, we provide the first quasi-experimental estimates of the impact of social media on mental health by leveraging a unique natural experiment: the staggered introduction of Facebook across U.S. colleges. Our analysis couples data on student mental health around the years of Facebook’s expansion with a generalized difference-in-differences empirical strategy. We find that the roll-out of Facebook at a college increased symptoms of poor mental health, especially depression, and led to increased utilization of mental healthcare services. We also find that, according to the students’ reports, the decline in mental health translated into worse academic performance. Additional evidence on mechanisms suggests the results are due to Facebook fostering unfavorable social comparisons.
    JEL: D12 D72 D90 I10 L82 L86
    Date: 2022–02–24
  3. By: Nadia von Jacobi; Vito Amendolagine
  4. By: Adena, Maja (WZB Berlin); Hakimov, Rustamdjan (University of Lausanne and WZB Berlin); Huck, Steffen (WZB Berlin and UCL)
    Abstract: In a large-scale natural field experiment, we partnered with a micro-lending company in Kyrgyzstan that asked over 180,000 of its clients for donations to social projects as a form of corporate philanthropy. In a 2x2 design, we explored two main (pre-registered) hypotheses about giving by the poor. First, based on a conjecture that poor are more price sensitive than the rich and in contrast to previous studies, we hypothesize that matching incentives induce crowding in of out- of-pocket donations. Second, we hypothesize that our population cares about their proximity to the charitable project. We find evidence in favor of the former hypothesis but not the latter. Previous studies of charitable giving focus on middle- or high-income earners in Western countries, neglecting the poor, although the lowest income groups are often shown to contribute substantial shares of their income to charitable causes. Our results challenge the evidence in the extant literature but are in line with our theoretical model. The implications for fundraising managers are that the optimal design of fundraising campaigns crucially depends on the targeted groups, and that donation matching is successful in stimulating participation in poorer populations.
    Keywords: charitable giving; field experiments; matching donations;
    JEL: C93 D64 D12
    Date: 2022–07–07
  5. By: Lorenzo Ductor (Department of Economic Theory and Economic History, University of Granada.); Bauke Visser (Erasmus University Rotterdam and Tinbergen Institute)
    Abstract: A department’s yearly publication count in a journal increases when a member of the department joins the journal’s editorial board. The common interpretation of this fact—that during the board member’s tenure, departmental colleagues publish more—is inaccurate. In a sample of 106 economics journals covering 1990-2011, we estimate that of the observed increase in the publication count, 73 per cent is (co-)authored by board members themselves. Their single-authored papers in a journal receive significantly less citations if they are on that journal’s editorial board. We find no evidence that they discover attractive papers among their colleagues that otherwise wouldn’t be published.
    Keywords: Editorial boards, Networks, Colleague, Coauthor, Rent extraction, Publishing
    JEL: A11 A14 O31
    Date: 2022–09–15
  6. By: Adena, Maja (WZB Berlin); Harke, Julian (WZB Berlin)
    Abstract: Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected pro-sociality among individuals? After the onset of the pandemic, many charitable appeals were updated to include a reference to COVID-19. Did donors increase their giving in response to such changes? In order to answer these questions, we conducted a real-donation online experiment with more than 4,200 participants from 149 local areas in England and over 21 weeks. First, we varied the fundraising appeal to either include or exclude a reference to COVID-19. We found that including the reference to COVID-19 in the appeal increased donations. Second, in a natural experiment- like approach, we studied how the relative local severity of the pandemic and media coverage about local COVID-19 severity affected giving in our experiment. We found that both higher local severity and more related articles increased giving of participants in the respective areas. This holds for different specifications, including specifications with location fixed effects, time fixed effects, a broad set of individual characteristics to account for a potentially changing composition of the sample over time and to account for health- and work-related experiences with and expectations regarding the pandemic. While negative experiences with COVID-19 correlate negatively with giving, both approaches led us to conclude that the pure effect of increased salience of the pandemic on pro-sociality is positive. Despite the shift in public attention toward the domestic fight against the pandemic and away from developing countries’ challenges, we found that preferences did not shift toward giving more to a national project and less to developing countries.
    Keywords: COVID-19; charitable giving; online experiments; natural experiments;
    JEL: C93 D64 D12
    Date: 2022–02–18
  7. By: Abhijit Banerjee; Esther Duflo; Erin Grela; Madeline McKelway; Frank Schilbach; Garima Sharma; Girija Vaidyanathan
    Abstract: The mental health of the elderly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is a largely neglected subject, both by policy and research. We combine data from the health and retirement family of surveys in seven LMICs (plus the US) to document that depressive symptoms among those aged 55 and above are more prevalent in those countries and increase sharply with age. Depressive symptoms in one survey wave are associated with a greater decline in functional abilities and higher probability of death in the next wave. Using data from a panel survey we conducted in Tamil Nadu with a focus on elderly living alone, we document that social isolation, poverty, and health challenges are three of the leading correlates of depression. We discuss potential policy interventions in these three domains, including some results from our randomized control trials in the Tamil Nadu sample.
    JEL: I15 I3 O1
    Date: 2022–09

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