nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2023‒08‒21
eight papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Social Preferences under the Shadow of the Future By Felix Kölle; Simone Quercia; Egon Tripodi
  2. The legacy of Mexico's Drug War on youth political attitudes By Omar García-Ponce; Isabel Laterzo
  3. Communal lands and social capital: A case study By Oto-Peralías, Daniel
  4. College Students' Social Capital and Their Perceptions of Local and National Cohesion By Rodríguez-Planas, Núria; Secor, Alan
  5. Silence kills! Victim-blaming social norms and violence against women By Sevinç Bermek; Konstantinos Matako; Asli Unan
  6. Inflation Literacy, Inflation Expectations, and Trust in the Central Bank: A Survey Experiment By Lena Dräger; Giang Nghiem
  7. Contacts Between Locals and Migrants Among Chinese Youth: Out-group Bias and Familial Transmission By Timo Heinrich; Jason Shachat; Qinjuan Wan
  8. Eliciting Moral Preferences Under Image Concerns: Theory and Evidence By Roland Bénabou; Armin Falk; Luca Henkel; Jean Tirole

  1. By: Felix Kölle; Simone Quercia; Egon Tripodi
    Abstract: Social interactions predominantly take place under the shadow of the future. Previous literature explains cooperation in indefinitely repeated prisoner’s dilemma as predominantly driven by self-interested strategic considerations. This paper provides a causal test of the importance of social preferences for cooperation, varying the composition of interactions to be either homogeneous or heterogeneous in terms of these preferences. Through a series of pre-registered experiments (N = 1, 074), we show that groups of prosocial individuals achieve substantially higher levels of cooperation. The cooperation gap between prosocial and selfish groups persists even when the shadow of the future is increased to make cooperation attractive for the selfish and when common knowledge about group composition is removed.
    Keywords: cooperation, indefinitely repeated games, prisoner’s dilemma, social preferences, experiment
    JEL: C73 C91 C92
    Date: 2023
  2. By: Omar García-Ponce; Isabel Laterzo
    Abstract: We investigate the impact of childhood exposure to organized criminal violence on sociopolitical attitudes in Mexico, where an entire generation of youths has been raised amid the country's most violent conflict over the past century. We fielded an in-person survey to nearly 3, 000 urban youths, measuring various sociopolitical attitudes such as trust in institutions, interpersonal trust, and vote choice.
    Keywords: Crime, Political reservations, Mexico, Violence, Trust, Democracy, Social cohesion
    Date: 2023
  3. By: Oto-Peralías, Daniel (Universidad Pablo de Olavide)
    Abstract: This paper explores the link between the historical presence of communal goods and the emergence of social capital. I conduct a survey to compare individuals from a town where communal lands have persisted since medieval times with individuals from neighboring-similar towns. I find that individuals exposed to communal lands have higher local social capital as they trust their neighbors more, have more local altruism, are more interested in local politics, and have a better knowledge about the town’s politics and history. Importantly, the effect is mainly present in individuals with family roots in the town, and there is no evidence of a positive effect on social capital beyond the local community.
    Date: 2023–07–03
  4. By: Rodríguez-Planas, Núria (Queens College, CUNY); Secor, Alan (City College of New York)
    Abstract: Using Queens College (a four-year college in NYC public system) students' survey data from 2022/23, we find that vulnerable students have less social capital in terms of physical order and social support in their neighborhoods. While social capital is directly related to self-reported neighborhood and national cohesion, resilience, and better mental health, different components of social capital matter for specific demographics. Physical order is more salient for less vulnerable students while social support is more salient for vulnerable students. Our findings underscore the need for policy action to be tailored to specific groups, rather than following a one-size-fits-all approach.
    Keywords: social cohesion, social capital, college students, mental health
    JEL: I24
    Date: 2023–07
  5. By: Sevinç Bermek; Konstantinos Matako; Asli Unan
    Abstract: Despite its huge social, psychological and economic costs, gender-based, intimate partner violence (IPV) is a phenomenon that persists in many countries. IPV is often not actively contested by society the persistence of victim-blaming norms might increase its social acceptability and thus hinter policy and behavior change. Are persisting victim-blaming attitudes and lack of action/policy support because of differences in own values or social norms? This paper examines the role of patriarchy values and social norms on gender attitudes towards and action/policy support regarding intimate partner violence. We conducted an online survey experiment in which a sample of 4, 000 respondents in Turkey –a country with the highest IPV prevalence among OECD members– was randomly assigned to receive hypothetical IPV scenario treatment with or without invocation of social norms, or control. Simply making the existence of a social norm salient (by eliciting respondents’ incentivized beliefs on what the majority/others think) increased support for policies to combat IPV by 3 to 4 percentage points compared to the control group. Our results suggest that while patriarchal attitudes are rather immovable and better at predicting own attitudes towards gender-based IPV, social norms do a much better job at changing policy preferences and (incentivized) behavior. Thus, policy change is possible even if individual patriarchy values are relatively stable. These findings highlight the need to consider the role of social norms when designing policies to tackle IPV. By exploiting our dynamic information-updating design, we also find strong convergence of individuals’ attitudes (on gender-based violence) to the elicited social norms.
    Date: 2023
  6. By: Lena Dräger; Giang Nghiem
    Abstract: This paper studies the causal effect of inflation literacy on inflation expectations and trust in the central bank using a randomized control trial (RCT) on a representative sample of the German population. In an experiment with two steps, we first test the effect of non-numerical information about inflation and monetary policy, the literacy treatment. In the second step, we randomly treat respondents with quantitative information and measure whether those who previously received the literacy treatment, incorporate quantitative information differently into their inflation forecasts. We find that the literacy treatment improves respondents’ knowledge about monetary policy and inflation and raises their trust in the central bank. It also causes a higher likelihood that respondents provide inflation predictions, but does not affect the level of expected inflation. Similarly, those who received the initial literacy treatment do not react differently to the quantitative information in terms of the level of their inflation forecasts, but they react more strongly to some treatments regarding their reported forecast uncertainty and trust in the central bank.
    Keywords: inflation literacy, inflation expectations, trust in the central bank, survey experiment, randomized control trial (RCT)
    JEL: E52 E31 D84
    Date: 2023
  7. By: Timo Heinrich (Hamburg University of Technology); Jason Shachat (Durham University Business School and Wuhan University); Qinjuan Wan (Central China Normal University)
    Abstract: Conficts between local and migrant populations have been ubiquitous in modern China. We examine the longer-term potentials for resolution through inter-group contact and persistence through the inter-generational transmission of preferences. Public schooling in Chinese cities provides one of the largest interventions for children with diferent group identities to interact extensively. We adopt the perspective that in- and out-group biased behavior structurally arises from group-conditional social preferences. By conducting experiments consisting of binary dictator allocation tasks in schools in a Chinese city, we can analyze how integrated schooling shapes the respective behavior. Surprisingly, we do not observe any negative out-group bias. In fact, local students exhibit a positive out-group bias by choosing sharing behavior more toward migrant than other local peers. This sharing behavior is most prevalent among primary school cohorts. We also do not fnd a higher prevalence of out-group bias among parents. However, parents make more envious choices, highlighting the potential for broader positive efects of schooling. In addition, we fnd strong evidence for the inter-generational transmission of preferences. Overall, these fndings suggest that more directed eforts to establish contact between locals and migrants may be successful in overcoming the confict.
    Keywords: social preferences, group identity, out-group bias, Chinese youth, migration
    JEL: C91 D92 M11
    Date: 2023
  8. By: Roland Bénabou; Armin Falk; Luca Henkel; Jean Tirole
    Abstract: We analyze how the impact of image motives on behavior varies with two key features of the choice mechanism: single versus multiple decisions, and certainty versus uncertainty of consequences. Using direct elicitation (DE) versus multiple-price-list (MPL) or equivalently Becker-DeGroot-Marschak (BDM) schemes as exemplars, we characterize how image-seeking inflates prosocial giving. The signaling bias (relative to true preferences) is shown to depend on the interaction between elicitation method and visibility level: it is greater under DE for low image concerns, and greater under MPL/BDM for high ones. We experimentally test the model’s predictions and find the predicted crossing effect.
    Keywords: Moral behavior, deontology, utilitarianism, consequentialism, social image, self-image, norms, preference elicitation, multiple price list, experiments
    JEL: C91 D01 D62 D64 D78
    Date: 2023–07

This nep-soc issue is ©2023 by Fabio Sabatini. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.