nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2023‒03‒20
five papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Organizing for Collective Action: Olson Revisited By Marco Battaglini; Thomas R. Palfrey
  2. Rebel Governance and Development: The Persistent Effects of Distrust in El Salvador By Antonella Bandiera; Lelys Dinarte-Diaz; Juan Miguel Jimenez; Sandra V. Rozo; Maria Micaela Sviatschi
  3. Does War Foster Cooperation or Parochialism? Evidence from a Natural Experiment among Turkish Conscripts By Kıbrıs, Arzu; Cesur, Resul
  4. Trust and Social Preferences in Times of Acute Health Crisis By Casoria, Fortuna; Galeotti, Fabio; Villeval, Marie Claire
  5. The effect of skills acquired abroad by return migrants on social relations and quality of life in Cameroon By Gislain S. GANDJON FANKEM; Dieudonné TAKA; Sévérin TAMWO

  1. By: Marco Battaglini; Thomas R. Palfrey
    Abstract: We study a standard collective action problem in which successful achievement of a group interest requires costly participation by some fraction of its members. How should we model the internal organization of these groups when there is asymmetric information about the preferences of their members? How effective should we expect it to be as we increase the group’s size n? We model it as an optimal honest and obedient communication mechanism and we show that for large n it can be implemented with a very simple mechanism that we call the Voluntary Based Organization. Two new results emerge from this analysis. Independently of the assumptions on the underlying technology, the limit probability of success in the best honest and obedient mechanism is the same as in an unorganized group, a result that is not generally true if obedience is omitted. An optimal organization, however, provides a key advantage: when the probability of success converges to zero, it does so at a much slower rate than in an unorganized group. Because of this, significant probabilities of success are achievable with simple honest and obedient organizations even in very large groups.
    JEL: C72 D71 D82
    Date: 2023–02
  2. By: Antonella Bandiera (ITAM); Lelys Dinarte-Diaz (Development Research Group, The World Bank); Juan Miguel Jimenez (University of British Columbia); Sandra V. Rozo (Development Research Group, The World Bank); Maria Micaela Sviatschi (Princeton University, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: How does rebel governance affect long-term development? Rebel forces have controlled territory and imposed their own institutions in many countries over the past decades affecting millions of people. We investigate the economic, social, and political consequences of temporary territorial control by guerrillas during the Salvadoran Civil War. During that time, guerrillas displaced state authorities and created their own informal institutions that encouraged autonomy and self-sufficiency from the state and external actors. Using a spatial regression discontinuity design, we show that areas once under guerrilla control have experienced worse economic outcomes over the last 20 years than adjacent areas controlled by the formal state. Our results suggest that reliance on non-state governance reinforced norms of distrust of external actors, producing overdependence on subsistence farming and disengagement from postwar governments. Results do not revert despite increased postwar public investment in formerly guerrilla areas. We argue that when non-state actors develop alternative governance institutions, these can prompt adverse development effects through lasting norms of distrust of out-groups.
    Keywords: Armed non-state actors, norms, economic development
    JEL: N3 O10
    Date: 2023–02
  3. By: Kıbrıs, Arzu (University of Warwick); Cesur, Resul (University of Connecticut)
    Abstract: Exploiting a natural experiment and an innovative survey design, we study the social and political legacies of armed conflict exposure (ACE) among Turkish conscripts. Our empirical framework identifies the causal impact and isolates the mediating pathways for the average male randomly picked from the population. Contrary to the arguments that war fosters prosociality and posttraumatic growth, we find little evidence that ACE promotes cooperative behaviors. Instead, we document evidence that ACE fosters parochialism, measured by increased opposition to peaceful means of conflict resolution, animosity towards minorities, and the tendency to support right-wing political parties. As the study design eliminates the need for social insurance, security concerns, and community-level paradigm shifts, and our analysis rules out labor market outcomes, human capital formation, and military socialization from the list of the usual suspects, we conclude that, in the absence of favorable neoclassical mediating pathways boosting demand for cohesion, violence exposure, in and of itself, is not sufficient foster cooperative behaviors but promotes parochialism. Further analyses show war-driven grievances, the normalization of violence in everyday life, and changes in parochial norms and preferences as the transmitting pathways.
    Keywords: war exposure, cooperation, parochialism, conflict resolution, grievances, conflict trap
    JEL: D74 O17 Z13
    Date: 2023–02
  4. By: Casoria, Fortuna (GATE, University of Lyon); Galeotti, Fabio (CNRS, GATE); Villeval, Marie Claire (CNRS, GATE)
    Abstract: We combined a natural experiment (the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020) with the tools of laboratory experiments to study whether and how an unprecedented shock on social interactions (the introduction and abrogation of a nationwide lockdown) affected the evolution of individuals' social preferences, and willingness to trust others. In a longitudinal online incentivized experiment during the first lockdown in France, we elicited the same participants' preferences for prosociality, trust and trustworthiness every week for three months. Despite the exposure to long-lasting social distancing, prosocial preferences and the willingness to reciprocate the trust of others remained stable during the whole period under study. In contrast, the lockdown had an immediate negative effect on trust, which remained at lower levels til after the lifting of such measures but recovered its initial level nine months later. The decline in trust was mainly driven by individuals who experienced financial hardship, a lack of outward exposure, and higher anxiety during the lockdown.
    Keywords: social preferences, trust, trustworthiness, pandemic, COVID-19, social distancing
    JEL: C92 K1 I18
    Date: 2023–02
  5. By: Gislain S. GANDJON FANKEM (Yaoundé, Cameroon); Dieudonné TAKA (Douala, Cameroon); Sévérin TAMWO (Yaoundé, Cameroon)
    Abstract: This article fills the lack of work on the link between return migration and social cohesion in the country of origin of migration. For the first time, we assess the effect of skills acquired abroad by return migrants on social relations and quality of life in Cameroon using original survey data from the Institute of Demographic Training and Research. The main results, based on a probit model, show that formal and informal competences acquired abroad reduce the likelihood that return migrants will improve social relations and increase the probability that they will increase quality of life in their home country. These results remain robust to the inclusion of return migrants from African and non-democratic countries. Correcting for the endogeneity of skills acquired abroadby two-stage probit model with instrumental variablesdoes not alter these conclusions. Our results seem to corroborate the hypothesis that migration contributes to the transfer of norms and practices from destination countries to countries of origin.
    Keywords: Return migrants; skills; social relations; quality of life; Cameroon
    JEL: F22 O55 C3
    Date: 2023–01

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