nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2023‒07‒17
seven papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Externalities and the Erosion of Trust By Gianmarco Daniele; Andrea F.M. Martinangeli; Francesco Passarelli; Willem Sas; Lisa Windsteiger
  2. Trust in the fight against political corruption: A survey experiment among citizens and experts By Benjamin Monnery; Alexandre Chirat
  3. Social Capital: Experimental validation of survey measures By Iván Barreda-Tarrazona; Agnès Festré; Stein Ostbye
  4. The Effects of Gendered Language on Norm Compliance By Paul M. Gorny; Petra Nieken; Karoline Ströhlein
  5. The Confederate Diaspora By Samuel Bazzi; Andreas Ferrara; Martin Fiszbein; Thomas P. Pearson; Patrick A. Testa
  6. Religion and Prosocial Behavior of Immigrants By David Gomtsyan
  7. Hiding behind the veil of ashes: Social capital in the wake of natural disasters By Victor Stephane

  1. By: Gianmarco Daniele; Andrea F.M. Martinangeli; Francesco Passarelli; Willem Sas; Lisa Windsteiger
    Abstract: We present a theory linking political and social trust to explain trust erosion in modern societies. Individuals disagree on the seriousness of an externality problem, which leads to diverging policy opinions on how to solve it. This heterogeneity has two important effects on trust. First, disappointment with the policy rule enacted by the government breeds institutional distrust. Individuals that are more worried blame the government because the rule is too lenient. The less worried blame it even more because it is too intrusive. Second, as the rule also shapes individuals’ notion of civic behavior, it drives a wedge between what an individual expects from others and their actual behavior. This fuels social distrust. The more individuals are worried, the more they distrust others that are not complying with the rules. Our experimental survey conducted in four European countries shows how these trust dynamics came to the surface during the Covid-19 pandemic. Once led to think intensely about the virus, lower institutional trust was reported predominantly by respondents that were less worried about the virus, whereas social trust declined (more) for worried individuals. We lastly find that support for the welfare state erodes alongside sliding trust levels.
    Keywords: social trust, institutional trust, heterogeneity, externalities, regulation, survey experiment, Covid-19, climate change, welfare, taxation
    JEL: D70 D72 H30 O52
    Date: 2023
  2. By: Benjamin Monnery (EconomiX, Universite Paris Nanterre); Alexandre Chirat (EconomiX, Universite Paris Nanterre)
    Abstract: In Western democracies, recent decades have seen a transformation of the relationship between citizens and their representatives towards greater accountability, transparency, and anti-corruption efforts. However, such developments are sometimes suspected of paradoxically fueling populism and diminishing political trust. We investigate the extent to which a new public institution tasked with monitoring the integrity of elected officials is likely to attract popular support and restore citizens' trust in democracy. We focus on France and its main anti-corruption agency, the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP), set up in 2013. We run a survey among 3, 000 representative citizens and 33 experts, and augment it with an experimental treatment where we randomly provide simple, concise information on the HATVP's activity and track record. Our results first show a large divergence between the opinions of the average citizen and the more optimistic views of experts about the state and dynamics of political integrity in France. Second, we find that citizens have heterogeneous beliefs and that those most distrustful of politicians are not only more likely to vote for populist candidates or abstain, but are also the least informed about the anticorruption agency. Third, our information provision experiment has meaningful, positive impacts on citizens' perceptions of the HATVP, political transparency, and representative democracy. We show that some of the greatest impacts are found among initially distrustful and poorly informed citizens, underscoring the potential for communication and information to change the political perceptions and attitudes of disillusioned citizens.
    Keywords: corruption, integrity, political trust, populism, survey experiment
    JEL: C99 D72 M48 P37
    Date: 2023–04
  3. By: Iván Barreda-Tarrazona (LEE and Department of Economics, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain); Agnès Festré (Ecole Universitaire de Recherche Economie et Management, Université Côte d'Azur, Nice, France); Stein Ostbye (School of Business and Economics, UIT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromso, Norway)
    Abstract: The social fabric, generally recognized as essential for economic and social transactions, is often referred to as Social Capital (SC). In this paper, we explore to what extent inexpensive survey data can be a substitute for more expensive experimental data as a metric of SC, using a cross-country design. We use data from two standard subject pools (located in Spain and France) and a mixed-method approach in the sense of presenting validated survey questions from the SC section of the latest wave of World Values Survey (WVS) to our participants, in addition to games for eliciting SC through actions and beliefs. Our data can be compared to publicly available WVS data at the relevant regional level as well as the national level. The main takeaway from our study is that SC measured by survey items consistently is higher in Spain than in France regardless of item and spatial resolution (nation, region, lab), whereas SC measured by choices and beliefs in incentivised games consistently is higher in France. This may confirm that there is reason for scepticism concerning the validity of survey measures in the context of social capital, not least since we, as opposed to in earlier studies, have data on group specific items used in the latest wave of WVS pertaining to trust in personal relations as well as more distant relations, all consistently pointing in the same direction regardless of spatial resolution. In this version of the paper we are concentrating on aggregates. Work remain to be done on the individual level.
    Keywords: social capital; mixed-method; cross-cultural; lab experiments
    JEL: Q12 C22 D81
    Date: 2023
  4. By: Paul M. Gorny; Petra Nieken; Karoline Ströhlein
    Abstract: Social norms, though often implicit, are to a great extent communicated and made salient using natural language. They carry the notions that “the participant, ” “the customer, ” or “the worker” should behave in a certain way. In English, we refer to each of these personal entity nouns using the pronouns “he, ” “she, ” or the gender-inclusive singular “they.” In languages with grammatical gender, the nouns and the grammatical structure they are embedded in mark them as either male, female, or gender-inclusive. Little is known as to whether the framing of norms with respect to these grammatical genders affects norm compliance. We conducted an experiment in German with three games commonly used to study fair sharing, cooperation, and honesty. Our treatments allowed us to compare the differences in the increase of norm compliance when introducing prescriptive norms depending on the match between the participant’s self-reported gender and the gender frame used in the experimental instructions. Overall, we find no strong evidence that a match between the participant’s self-reported gender and the norm formulation led to a higher increase in norm compliance compared to the differences in a mismatch or gender-inclusive frame. We observed the strongest effect for men in the sharing game, where the data suggests that a match led to a higher increase in norm compliance compared to the increase if gender-inclusive formulations were used. This line of research has important implications for the effective communication of rules and norms in organizations and administrations.
    Keywords: norm compliance, gender in language, social identity
    JEL: C91 D01 J16 Z13
    Date: 2023
  5. By: Samuel Bazzi; Andreas Ferrara; Martin Fiszbein; Thomas P. Pearson; Patrick A. Testa
    Abstract: This paper shows how white migration out of the postbellum South diffused and entrenched Confederate culture across the United States at a critical juncture of westward expansion and postwar reconciliation. These migrants laid the groundwork for Confederate symbols and racial norms to become pervasive nationally in the early 20th century. Occupying positions of authority, former slaveholders played an outsized role in this process. Beyond memorializing the Confederacy, migrants exacerbated racial violence, boosted novel forms of exclusion, and compounded Black disadvantage outside the South. Moving West, former Confederates had larger effects in frontier communities lacking established culture and institutions. Over time, they continued to transmit norms to their children and non-Southern neighbors. The diaspora legacy persists over the long run, shaping racial inequities in labor, housing, and policing. Together, our findings offer a new perspective on migration, elite influence, and the interplay between culture and institutions in the nation-building process.
    JEL: D72 J15 J18 N31 N32 P16
    Date: 2023–06
  6. By: David Gomtsyan (CERDI - Centre d'Études et de Recherches sur le Développement International - IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UCA - Université Clermont Auvergne)
    Abstract: Ramadan has attracted negative publicity and criticism in Western countries with large Muslim immigrant populations. Are these attitudes justified? Does the behavior of Muslim immigrants negatively affect host populations during this period? We investigate one important dimension of immigrant behavior that is a source of concern: criminal activity. Using Swiss data, we document that during Ramadan, crimes committed by Muslim migrants decline by 11%. We provide evidence that changes in the beliefs and values of immigrants play an essential role in explaining the overall result.
    Abstract: Le Ramadan a suscité de nombreuses critiques et fait l'objet d'une publicité négative dans les pays occidentaux comptant d'importantes populations d'immigrés musulmans. Ces attitudes sont-elles justifiées ? Le comportement des immigrants musulmans a-t-il un effet négatif sur les populations d'accueil pendant cette période ? Nous étudions une dimension essentielle du comportement des immigrés, source de préoccupations : l'activité criminelle. D'après des données recueillies en Suisse, il apparaît que, pendant le Ramadan, les crimes commis par les migrants musulmans diminuent de 11%. Notre étude apporte la preuve que ce sont les changements dans les croyances et valeurs des immigrants qui expliquent ce résultat global.
    Keywords: Immigration, Crime, Islam, Ramadan, Religious practice, Criminalité, Pratique religieuse
    Date: 2023–01–20
  7. By: Victor Stephane (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon - Saint-Etienne - ENS de Lyon - École normale supérieure de Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet - Saint-Étienne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Date: 2021–09

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