nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2022‒10‒31
ten papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Using Social Media to Change Gender Norms : An Experiment within Facebook Messenger in India By Donati,Dante; Orozco Olvera,Victor Hugo; Rao,Nandan Mark
  2. Refugee Return and Social Cohesion By Ruiz,Isabel; Vargas Silva,Carlos Ivan
  3. Distributional Policies and Social Cohesion in a High-Unemployment Setting By Agüero,Jorge M.; Fasola,Eniola
  4. Culture Clash: Incompatible Reputation Mechanisms and Intergroup Conflict By Vasiliki Fouka; Alain Schläpfer
  5. First Generation Elite: The Role of School Networks By Cattan, Sarah; Salvanes, Kjell G.; Tominey, Emma
  6. Hosting New Neighbors : Perspectives of Host Communities on Social Cohesion inEastern DRC By World Bank; Pham,Phuong; O’Mealia,Thomas; Wei,Carol; Bindu,Kennedy Kihangi; Makoond,Anupah; Vinck,Patrick Thierry
  7. Key players in bullying networks By Atay, Ata; Mauleon, Ana; Schopohl, Simon; Vannetelbosch, Vincent
  8. Strategic Behavior with Tight, Loose and Polarized Norms By Eugen Dimant; Michele Gelfand; Anna Hochleitner; Silvia Sonderegger
  9. Social Norms and Gender Equality : A Descriptive Analysis for South Asia By Bussolo,Maurizio; Ezebuihe,Jessy Amarachi; Munoz Boudet,Ana Maria; Poupakis,Stavros; Rahman,Tasmia; Sarma,Nayantara
  10. Social support and network formation in a small-scale horticulturalist population By Simpson, Cohen R.

  1. By: Donati,Dante; Orozco Olvera,Victor Hugo; Rao,Nandan Mark
    Abstract: This paper experimentally tests the effectiveness of two short edutainment campaigns (under 25minutes) delivered through Facebook Messenger at reshaping gender norms and reducing social acceptability of violenceagainst women in India. Participants were randomly assigned to watch video clips with implicit or explicit messagingformats (respectively a humorous fake reality television drama or a docuseries with clear calls to action). After oneweek, the intent-to-treat effects of the implicit format on knowledge, gender norms, and acceptability of violenceagainst women oscillated between 0.16 and 0.21 standard deviations yet impacts diminished after four months. Bycontrast, the explicit format was more impactful in the short term in increasing willingness to share video clipswith friends and promoting online information-seeking behaviors. In the medium term, individuals who were exposedto the docuseries were 91 percent (7.5 percentage points) more likely to add a frame against violence against women intheir Facebook profile picture, a public display of their disapproval of this harmful practice. The general lack ofheterogeneous effects across social status indicators suggests social media as a potential medium for reachingdifferent online populations, including vulnerable ones.
    Date: 2022–10–05
  2. By: Ruiz,Isabel; Vargas Silva,Carlos Ivan
    Abstract: This paper explores the impact of refugee return on social cohesion using data from Burundi, acountry that experienced high levels of repatriation during the 2000s. It uses a nationwide survey conducted in 2015 andrelies on geographic features of the communities for identification purposes. The results suggest varying impactsof refugee return on different aspects of social cohesion. The stronger effects, suggest that refugee return has anegative impact on the feeling that community members help each other, could borrow money for emergencies fromnon-household members and feeling that the community is peaceful. The estimated impacts on measures ofreconciliation, post-conflict justice, trust and participation in community groups are mostly statisticallyinsignificant. The paper also explores how these effects differ across different sub-samples based on ethniccomposition, land scarcity and attitudes towards return. The results highlight the possible role of new migration-relatedsocietal divisions (i.e. returnees versus stayees) in affecting post-return social cohesion.
    Date: 2022–06–22
  3. By: Agüero,Jorge M.; Fasola,Eniola
    Abstract: This paper studies the impact of distributional policies on social cohesion. The focus is onSouth Africa, a country with the highest unemployment rate worldwide and a major destination hub for the forciblydisplaced. The paper uses a regression discontinuity design based on the eligibility rule of an unconditional cashtransfer program (Old Age Pension) together with multiple rounds of the country’s Social Attitudes Survey andestimates the impact of the cash transfer to the local population on over 100 variables capturing differentdimensions of social cohesion, while accounting for multiple hypothesis testing. Results show a limited impact of thetransfer on social cohesion. Transfer increases life satisfaction and views favorable towards racial diversity.However, it has only a marginal effect on interpersonal trust and a very small effect on attitudes towardsimmigration. These findings are consistent with theoretical models where anti-immigrant behaviors are not the result oflow-income but rather due to non-wage factors such as ethnic background or language barriers.
    Date: 2022–06–23
  4. By: Vasiliki Fouka; Alain Schläpfer
    Abstract: Under what conditions does intergroup contact lead to conflict? We provide a novel answer to this question by highlighting the role of reputation mechanisms in sustaining cooperation. Reputational concerns can deter defection in one-time interactions within a group, but the informational content of reputation can differ across groups. We consider two types of information. Punishment-based reputation (a "culture of honor") represents past sanctioning behavior of individuals, while a reputation based on image scoring captures past cooperative and uncooperative acts. While either type can successfully sustain cooperation within a group, we show theoretically that interactions of individuals from a punishment-based culture with those from a culture of image scoring can lead to widespread inter-group tensions. Mutual cooperation is a more likely outcome if both cultures use a similar reputation mechanism. We find empirical support for the model's predictions across phenomena related to the emergence of social tensions. Cross-cultural differences in the importance of retaliation predict patterns of host population discrimination against immigrants and variation in bilateral conflict across ethnic groups.
    JEL: P0 Z1
    Date: 2022–09
  5. By: Cattan, Sarah (Institute for Fiscal Studies, London); Salvanes, Kjell G. (Norwegian School of Economics); Tominey, Emma (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
    Date: 2022–09
  6. By: World Bank; Pham,Phuong; O’Mealia,Thomas; Wei,Carol; Bindu,Kennedy Kihangi; Makoond,Anupah; Vinck,Patrick Thierry
    Abstract: Situations of forced displacement create unique challenges for social cohesion because of themajor disruption of social dynamics among both displaced persons and host communities. This paper uses a sequentialmixed method approach to analyze the relationship between hosting displaced persons and perceptions of social cohesionin eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. First, participatory research methods in focus groups empoweredparticipants to produce a locally driven definition of social cohesion. The results from these exercises inform thequantitative assessment by dictating measurement strategies when analyzing original surveys. Combining almost 50,000 responses to 11 cross-sectional surveys between 2017 and2021, displacement is negatively associated with perceptions of social cohesion in aggregate. But at the individuallevel, those who report hosting displaced populations in their communities often have higher perceptions of socialcohesion. These results are strongest among respondents who self-report hosting IDPs as opposed to refugees, butimportant heterogeneity across indicators, local context, and gender should guide policy meant to promote socialcohesion in forced displacement.
    Date: 2022–06–22
  7. By: Atay, Ata; Mauleon, Ana (Université catholique de Louvain, LIDAM/CORE, Belgium); Schopohl, Simon; Vannetelbosch, Vincent (Université catholique de Louvain, LIDAM/CORE, 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 non-cooperatively how much effort to exert in preventing misbehavior. Each indi- vidual’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 ; #MeToo
    JEL: A14 C72 D85 Z13
    Date: 2022–05–23
  8. By: Eugen Dimant (University of Pennsylvania, USA; CESifo, Germany); Michele Gelfand (Stanford University, USA); Anna Hochleitner (University of Nottingham, U.K.); Silvia Sonderegger (University of Nottingham, U.K.)
    Abstract: Descriptive norms – the behavior of other individuals in one’s reference group – play a key role in shaping individual decisions. When characterizing the behavior of others, a standard approach in the literature is to focus on average behavior. In this paper, we argue both the-oretically and empirically that not only averages, but the shape of the whole distribution of behavior can play a crucial role in how people react to descriptive norms. Using a represen-tative sample of the U.S. population, we experimentally investigate how individuals react to strategic environments that are characterized by di˙erent distributions of behavior, focusing on the distinction between tight (i.e., characterized by low behavioral variance), loose (i.e., characterized by high behavioral variance), and polarized (i.e., characterized by u-shaped behavior) environments. We find that individuals indeed strongly respond to di˙erences in the variance and shape of the descriptive norm they are facing: loose norms generate greater behavioral variance and polarization generates polarized responses. In polarized environ-ments, most individuals prefer extreme actions that expose them to considerable strategic risk to intermediate actions that would minimize such risk. Importantly, we also find that, in polarized and loose environments, personal traits and values play a larger role in de-termining actual behavior. This provides important insights into how individuals navigate environments that contain strategic uncertainty.
    Keywords: Cooperation, Descriptive Norms, Variance, Peer Effects
    JEL: C91 D01
    Date: 2022–09
  9. By: Bussolo,Maurizio; Ezebuihe,Jessy Amarachi; Munoz Boudet,Ana Maria; Poupakis,Stavros; Rahman,Tasmia; Sarma,Nayantara
    Abstract: Despite decades of economic growth, gender inequality in South Asia remains remarkably high.Although not the only one, social norms are a crucial driver of various gender outcomes, including differential economicparticipation. Using repeated cross-sectional data from nationally representative surveys, this paper explores thelong term trends of gender outcomes and social norms (proxied by attitudes towards gender roles) in South Asia.The results corroborate the evidence that there has been almost no progress in gender equality in South Asia over thepast half-century. There has been little progress on female labor force participation, marriage age, agency, intimatepartner violence, and preference for sons, with education being the only exception. The lack of progress is apparentamong all socioeconomic groups, including women who live in urban areas, are educated, and have higher incomes. Genderattitudes also remain unchanged, and in some cases, have become more conservative and have a negative relationshipwith gender outcomes. Better measurements of social normsand better understanding of how their constraining role can be loosened may be critical for achieving gender equality inthe region.
    Date: 2022–08–16
  10. By: Simpson, Cohen R.
    Abstract: Evolutionary studies of cooperation in traditional human societies suggest that helping family and responding in kind when helped are the primary mechanisms for informally distributing resources vital to day-to-day survival (e.g., food, knowledge, money, childcare). However, these studies generally rely on forms of regression analysis that disregard complex interdependences between aid, resulting in the implicit assumption that kinship and reciprocity drive the emergence of entire networks of supportive social bonds. Here I evaluate this assumption using individual-oriented simulations of network formation (i.e., Stochastic Actor-Oriented Models). Specifically, I test standard predictions of cooperation derived from the evolutionary theories of kin selection and reciprocal altruism alongside well-established sociological predictions around the self-organisation of asymmetric relationships. Simulations are calibrated to exceptional public data on genetic relatedness and the provision of tangible aid amongst all 108 adult residents of a village of indigenous horticulturalists in Nicaragua (11,556 ordered dyads). Results indicate that relatedness and reciprocity are markedly less important to whom one helps compared to the supra-dyadic arrangement of the tangible aid network itself.
    Keywords: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (Grant Number: pf170158)
    JEL: C1
    Date: 2022–09–15

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