nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2023‒05‒01
nine papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Unpacking Social Capital By Ruben Durante; Nicola Mastrorocco; Luigi Minale; James M. Snyder Jr.
  2. Frontier History and Gender Norms in the United States By Samuel Bazzi; Abel Brodeur; Martin Fiszbein; Joanne Haddad
  3. Trust and social preferences in times of acute health crisis * By Fortuna Casoria; Fabio Galeotti; Marie Claire Villeval
  4. Religion and Cooperation across the Globe By Caicedo, Felipe Valencia; Dohmen, Thomas; Pondorfer, Andreas
  5. Rooting for the Same Team: On the Interplay between Political and Social Identities in the Formation of Social Ties By Nicolás Ajzenman; Bruno Ferman; Pedro C. Sant’Anna
  6. Social Media Charity Campaigns and Pro-social Behaviour. Evidence from the Ice Bucket Challenge By Fazio, Andrea; Reggiani, Tommaso G.; Scervini, Francesco
  7. Trust and CO2 emissions: cooperation on a global scale By Jo, Ara; Carattini, Stefano
  8. Trusting the health system and COVID 19 restriction compliance By Costa-Font, Joan; Vilaplana-Prieto, Cristina
  9. Prosocial Behavior and the Individual Normative Standard of Fairness within a Dynamic Context: Experimental Evidence By Mekvabishvili, Rati; Mekvabishvili, Elguja; Natsvaladze, Marine; Sirbiladze, Rusudan; Mzhavanadze, Giorgi; Deisadze, Salome

  1. By: Ruben Durante; Nicola Mastrorocco; Luigi Minale; James M. Snyder Jr.
    Abstract: We use novel and unique survey data from Italy to shed light on key questions regarding the measurement of social capital and the use of social capital indicators for empirical work. Our data cover a sample of over 600, 000 respondents interviewed between 2000 and 2015. We identify four distinct components of social capital – i) social participation, ii) political participation, iii) trust in others, and iv) trust in institutions – and examine how they relate to each other. We then study how each dimension of social capital relates to various socioeconomic factors both at the individual and the aggregate level, and to various proxies of social capital commonly used in the literature. Finally, building on previous work, we investigate to what extent different dimensions of social capital predict differences in key economic, political, and health outcomes. Our findings support the view that social capital is a multifaceted object with multiple dimensions that, while related, are distinct from each other. Future work should take such multidimensionality into account and carefully consider what measure of social capital to use.
    JEL: A12 A13 P10 Z1
    Date: 2023–03
  2. By: Samuel Bazzi; Abel Brodeur; Martin Fiszbein; Joanne Haddad
    Abstract: This paper explores how historical gender roles become entrenched as norms over the long run. In the historical United States, gender roles on the frontier looked starkly different from those in settled areas. Male-biased sex ratios led to higher marriage rates for women and lower for men. Land abundance favored higher fertility. The demands of childcare, compounded with isolation from extended family as well as a lack of social and market infrastructure, constrained female opportunities outside the home. Frontier women were less likely to report “gainful employment, ” but among those who did, relatively more had high-status occupations. Together, these findings integrate contrasting narratives about frontier women—some emphasizing their entrepreneurial independence, others their prevailing domesticity. The distinctive frontier gender roles, in turn, shaped norms over the long run. Counties with greater historical frontier exposure exhibit lower female labor force participation through the 21st century. Time use data suggests this does not come with additional leisure but rather with more household work. These gender inequalities are accompanied by weaker political participation among women. While the historical frontier may have been empowering for some women, its predominant domesticity reinforced inegalitarian gender norms over the long run.
    JEL: J12 J13 J22 N31 N91 O15 P16
    Date: 2023–03
  3. By: Fortuna Casoria (CEREN, BSB - CEREN EA 7477, Burgundy School of Business, Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté, Dijon, France); Fabio Galeotti; Marie Claire Villeval
    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
    Date: 2023–02–05
  4. By: Caicedo, Felipe Valencia (University of British Columbia); Dohmen, Thomas (University of Bonn and IZA); Pondorfer, Andreas (Technical University of Munich)
    Abstract: Social science research has stressed the important role of religion in sustaining cooperation among non-kin. We contribute to this literature with a large-scale empirical study documenting the relationship between religion and cooperation. We analyze newly available, experimentally validated, and globally representative data on social preferences and world religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism). We find that individuals who report believing in such religions also exhibit more prosocial preferences, as measured by their levels of positive reciprocity, altruism and trust. We further document heterogeneous patterns of negative reciprocity and punishment—two key elements for cooperation—across world religions. The association between religion and prosocial preferences is stronger in more populous societies and weaker in countries with better institutions. The interactive results between these variables point again towards the substitutability between religious and secular institutions, when it comes to sustaining cooperation.
    Keywords: religion, prosociality, human cooperation, population, institutions
    JEL: D90 P35 Z12
    Date: 2023–03
  5. By: Nicolás Ajzenman (McGill University); Bruno Ferman (São Paulo School of Economics - FGV); Pedro C. Sant’Anna (São Paulo School of Economics - FGV)
    Abstract: We study the interplay between political and other social identities in the formation of social ties in a setting of intense affective polarization. We created fictional accounts on Twitter that signaled their political preference for one of the two leading candidates in the Brazilian 2022 Presidential election, their preference for a Brazilian football club, or both. We interpret preference for a football club as an affective dimension of identity. The bots randomly followed Twitter accounts with congruent and incongruent identities across these two dimensions, and we computed the proportion of follow-backs and blocks they received. Both dimensions of identity are relevant in forming ties, but the effect of sharing a political identity is significantly greater. Moreover, affective identity becomes substantially less relevant when information about political identity is available, indicating that political identity can overshadow other dimensions of identity. Still, shared affective identity has a positive effect in fostering ties even among politically opposite individuals. This result suggests that shared identities such as preference for a football club have the potential to reduce politically induced societal divides, despite the evidence that affective polarization may diminish this effect.
    Keywords: Social Identity; Affective Polarization; Brazilian Elections; Social Media.
    JEL: D72 D91 C93 Z20
    Date: 2023–04
  6. By: Fazio, Andrea (Sapienza University of Rome); Reggiani, Tommaso G. (Cardiff University); Scervini, Francesco (University of Pavia)
    Abstract: Social media use plays an important role in shaping individuals' social attitudes and economic behaviours. One of the first well-known examples of social media campaigns is the Ice Bucket Challenge (IBC), a charity campaign that went viral on social media networks in August 2014, aiming to collect money for research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We rely on UK longitudinal data to investigate the causal impact of the Ice Bucket Challenge on pro-social behaviours. In detail, this study shows that having been exposed to the IBC increases the probability of donating money, and it also increases the amount of money donated among those who donate at most £100. We also find that exposure to the IBC has increased the probability of volunteering and the level of interpersonal trust. However, all these results, except for the result on the intensive margins of donations, are of short duration and are limited to less than one year. This supports the prevalent consensus that social media campaigns may have only short-term eects.
    Keywords: donations, volunteering, altruism, social media campaigns, Ice Bucket Challenge
    JEL: D64 O35
    Date: 2023–03
  7. By: Jo, Ara; Carattini, Stefano
    Abstract: Although the effect of trust on local cooperation is well-documented, little is known about how trust influences global cooperation. Building on a large body of theoretical and experimental literature, we hypothesize that trust shared in a society may positively affect global cooperative behavior. We provide empirical evidence in the context of climate change that an increase in trust is associated with a larger reduction in CO2 emissions across countries, controlling for country fixed effects and a number of time-varying factors. As a falsification test, we estimate the relationship on an earlier period when there was no concern of man-made climate change (before the 1980s) and find no impact of trust on CO2 emissions during that period.
    Keywords: climate change; cooperation; trust; P2SKP1_16502
    JEL: Q54 N50 Z10
    Date: 2021–10–01
  8. By: Costa-Font, Joan; Vilaplana-Prieto, Cristina
    Abstract: We examine the extent to which exposure to higher relative COVID-19 mortality (RM), influences health system trust (HST), and whether changes in HST explain the perceived ease of compliance with pandemic restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing on evidence from two representative surveys covering all regions of 28 European countries before and after the first COVID-19 wave, and using a difference in differences strategy together with Coarsened Exact Matching (CEM), we document that living in a region with higher RM during the first wave of the pandemic increased HST. However, the positive effect of RM on HST is driven by individuals over 45 years of age, and the opposite effect is found among younger cohorts. Furthemore, we find that a higher HST reduces the costs of complying with COVID-19 restrictions, but only so long as excess mortality does not exceed the average by more than 20%, at which point the ease of complying with COVID-19 restrictions significantly declines, offsetting the positive effect of trust in the healthcare system. Our interpretation of these estimates is that a higher RM is interpreted as a risk signal among those over 45, and as a signal of health-care system failure among younger age individuals.
    Keywords: healthcare system trust; mortality; lockdown; Eurobarometer; difference in differences; Covid-19; coronavirus; Periscope H2020 GA 101016233; Elsevier deal
    JEL: I10 Z10
    Date: 2023–04–01
  9. By: Mekvabishvili, Rati; Mekvabishvili, Elguja; Natsvaladze, Marine; Sirbiladze, Rusudan; Mzhavanadze, Giorgi; Deisadze, Salome
    Abstract: In this paper, we present an experimental study of prosocial behavior and individual normative standards of fairness under the novel context of a dynamic dictator game. In addition, we explore the role of informal institutions in shaping individuals’ cooperation within the domain of a public goods game under its direct exposure and in subsequent prosociality beyond its reach in the domain of the dictator game. We find that dictators’ average offers in our study are quite close to the typical results found in other dictator game experiments and they are quite stable over two periods. However, dictators become more selfish after they have had the experience of playing a public goods game with peer punishment. Interestingly, we found that dictators act significantly more selfishly relative to their own declared individual normative standard of fairness. Furthermore, our experiment reveals a large share of antisocial punishment in the public goods game and a peer-to-peer punishment mechanism to be an inefficient tool to promote cooperation, however in an environment that rules out a suitable normative consensus and collective choice.
    Keywords: dictator game; individual normative standard of fairness; dynamics of behavior; spillover; prosociality; public goods game;
    JEL: C73 C92 D02 H41
    Date: 2023–02–04

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