nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2023‒10‒30
eight papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini, Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Long Run Consequences of Ethnic Conflict On Social Capital: Evidence from South Africa By Paz, Santiago
  2. Employee Trust and Performance Constraints in Public Sector Organizations By Keefer, Philip; Vlaicu, Razvan
  3. When Product Markets Become Collective Traps: The Case of Social Media By Leonardo Bursztyn; ; Rafael Jiménez Durán; Christopher Roth
  4. Identifying network ties from panel data: Theory and an application to tax competition By Áureo de Paula; Imran Rasul; Pedro CL Souza
  5. Population Aging and the Rise of Populist Attitudes in Europe By Despina Gavresi; Andreas Irmen; Anastasia Litina
  6. Raise your Voice! Activism and Peer Effects in Online Social Networks By Alejandra Agustina Martínez
  7. How Social Networks Influence Access and Utilization of Weather and Climate Information: The Case of Upland Farming Communities in the Philippines By Tabuga, Aubrey D.; Domingo, Sonny N.; Umlas, Anna Jennifer L.; Zuluaga, Katrina Mae C.
  8. Climate Change and Political Participation: Evidence from India By Amrit Amirapu; Irma Clots-Figueras; Juan Pablo Rud

  1. By: Paz, Santiago (Universidad de los Andes)
    Abstract: This paper studies the following research question: What are the consequences of historical ethnic conflict on contemporary levels of social capital? This question is relevant, since understanding the consequences of historical ethnic violence on contemporary social capital can provide useful inputs to design effective State-building policies. I exploit Mfecane, a period of ethnic upheaval in South African history, as a setting to examine the causal effects of historical ethnic conflict on contemporary levels of social capital. For this end, I use a combination of a historical approximation of the Mfecane warzone with geocoded data from the Afrobarometer project (2000-2016). Using an instrumental variables strategy, I find that historical ethnic conflict decreases contemporary trust in people among individuals living within the borders of Mfecane, while increasing trust in relatives and neighbors. Increases in in-group trust appear to be driven by the long run persistence of parochial altruism. Conversely, lower levels of betweengroup trust can be explained by the lack of economic incentives to cooperate with strangers in former warzones. These results are suggestive of a degree of substitutability between in-group and between-group social capital, at the community level.
    Keywords: Violence; Social Capital; Trust; Ethnic Conflict; South Africa
    JEL: D74 N00 O10 O12 O13 Q34
    Date: 2023–09–21
  2. By: Keefer, Philip; Vlaicu, Razvan
    Abstract: Theory suggests that employee trust is key to productivity in organizations, but empirical evidence documenting links between trust and constraints on performance is scarce. This paper analyzes self-collected data on public sector employees from eighteen Latin American countries and finds that individual-level trust is relevant to three types of performance factors. First, high-trust employees are more willing to collaborate and share information with coworkers and are more supportive of technological innovation. Second, high-trust respondents have different perceptions of organizational constraints: they are less concerned with low staff quality or lack of discretion to innovate, and more concerned with staff shortages. Third, trust in coworkers is associated with stronger mission motivation. Instrumental variable strategies based on the transmission of trust through social and professional channels account for potential sources of endogeneity. A survey experiment on preferences for social distancing policies provides further evidence that trust enhances mission motivation: employee policy preferences align better with the implied government policy when their trust in the public sector is higher.
    Keywords: Trust;performance;public sector;mission motivation;Survey experiments
    JEL: D23 D73 H83
    Date: 2022–12
  3. By: Leonardo Bursztyn (University of Chicago and NBER); (University of California Berkeley and NBER); Rafael Jiménez Durán (Bocconi University and Chicago Booth Stigler Center); Christopher Roth (University of Cologne, Max Planck Institute for Collective Goods, briq, CESifo, and CEPR)
    Abstract: Individuals might experience negative utility from not consuming a popular product. For example, being inactive on social media can lead to social exclusion or not owning luxury brands can be associated with having a low social status. We show that, in the presence of such spillovers to non-users, standard measures that take aggregate consumption as given fail to appropriately capture welfare. We propose a new methodology to measure welfare that accounts for these consumption spillovers, which we apply to estimate the consumer surplus of two popular social media platforms, TikTok and Instagram. In large-scale, incentivized experiments with college students, we show that, while the standard welfare measure suggests a large and positive surplus, our measure accounting for consumption spillovers indicates a negative surplus, with a large share of active users deriving negative utility. We also shed light on the drivers of consumption spillovers to non-users in the case of social media and show that, in this setting, the “fear of missing out” plays an important role. Our framework and estimates highlight the possibility of product market traps, where large shares of consumers are trapped in an inefficient equilibrium and would prefer the product not to exist.
    Keywords: Welfare; Consumption Spillovers; Collective Trap; Coordination; Product Market Traps; Social Media.
    JEL: D83 D91 P16 J15
    Date: 2023–10
  4. By: Áureo de Paula; Imran Rasul; Pedro CL Souza
    Abstract: Social interactions determine many economic behaviors, but information on social ties does not exist in most publicly available and widely used datasets. We present results on the identification of social networks from observational panel data that contains no information on social ties between agents. In the context of a canonical social interactions model, we provide sufficient conditions under which the social interactions matrix, endogenous and exogenous social effect parameters are globally identified if networks are constant over time. We also provide an extension of the method for time-varying networks. We then describe how high-dimensional estimation techniques can be used to estimate the interactions model based on the Adaptive Elastic Net Generalized Method of Moments. We employ the method to study tax competition across US states. The identified social interactions matrix implies that tax competition differs markedly from the common assumption of competition between geographically neighboring states, providing further insights into the long-standing debate on the relative roles of factor mobility and yardstick competition in driving tax setting behavior across states. Most broadly, our identification and application show that the analysis of social interactions can be extended to economic realms where no network data exists.
    Date: 2023–10–11
  5. By: Despina Gavresi (DEM, Université du Luxembourg); Andreas Irmen (DEM, Université du Luxembourg); Anastasia Litina (University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, GR)
    Abstract: In the light of the rise in populism in Europe, this paper empirically explores the interplay between population aging and populist attitudes. We test this hypothesis by conducting a multilevel analysis of individuals living in European countries over the period 2002-2019. Our measure of population aging is the country’s old-age dependency ratio, thus we focus on population or societal aging as opposed to individual aging. Populist attitudes are derived from individual-level data that provide information about voting for populist parties, political trust and attitudes towards immigration available in nine consecutive rounds of the European Social Survey. Our findings suggest that societal aging is associated with a fall in trust in national and European institutions and a rise in attitudes against immigrants. There are two potential mechanisms driving our results. First, a shift in the median voter age. Older people tend to be more conservative, voting more for right-wing populist parties and this is reflected on the median vote and attitude as well. The second mechanism appeals to the impact that the presence of the “old” group in the society has on the society and the economy as a whole, it is thus more of an “externality” effect. Living in an aging society, young people are aware of the fact that they have to cater for a large share of old people and this gives rise to different incentives and attitudes compared to individuals living in “young” societies
    Keywords: Population Aging, Populist Vote, Immigrant Attitudes, Trust.
    JEL: D72 J10 P16 Z13
    Date: 2023
  6. By: Alejandra Agustina Martínez (University of Leicester)
    Abstract: Do peers influence individuals’ involvement in political activism? To provide a quantitative answer, I study Argentina’s abortion rights debate through Twitter, the social media platform. Pro-choice and pro-life activists coexisted online, and the evidence suggests peer groups were not too polarized. I develop a model of strategic interactions in a network allowing for heterogeneous peer effects. Next, I estimate peer effects and test whether online activism exhibits strategic substitutability or complementarity. I create a novel panel dataset where links and actions are observable by combining tweets’ and users’ information. I provide a reduced-form analysis by proposing a network-based instrumental variable. The results indicate strategic complementarity in online activism from both aligned and opposing peers. Notably, the evidence suggests homophily in the formation of Twitter’s network, but it does not support the hypothesis of an echo-chamber effect.
    Keywords: Political activism; Peer effects; Social networks; Social media
    JEL: D74 D85 P00 Z13
    Date: 2023–09
  7. By: Tabuga, Aubrey D.; Domingo, Sonny N.; Umlas, Anna Jennifer L.; Zuluaga, Katrina Mae C.
    Abstract: Social norms and structures are vital factors that shape people’s behavior and attitudes. Therefore, analyzing such underlying forces in creating strategies to influence behavior and activities is useful. Agricultural extension services, such as information dissemination and farmers’ training, are some of the interventions that can benefit from such analyses, especially within a context of limited human and financial resources. The lessons learned from analyzing social networks and norms can be used to identify potential local knowledge and information disseminators, thereby aiding the extension services. It also helps in formulating more contextualized approaches to reach the underserved and hard-to-reach areas. Applying this approach, this study used the case of a remote upland area in Atok, Benguet, a major vegetable producer. A social network analysis was used to develop insights for designing more effective extension strategies. The results show that interventions like information and education campaigns can be improved by acknowledging the nuances in social relation structures.
    Keywords: social network analysis;information and education campaign;Philippines;Benguet farming;upland farming
    Date: 2023
  8. By: Amrit Amirapu (University of Kent); Irma Clots-Figueras (University of Kent/IZA); Juan Pablo Rud (University of London/IZA/Institute of Fiscal Studies)
    Abstract: We study the effects of temperature shocks on electoral outcomes in Indian elections. Taking advantage of localized, high-frequency data on temperatures, we find that exposure to extreme temperatures the year before an election increases voter turnout, changes the composition of the candidate pool, and leads to different electoral outcomes (e.g. winning candidates are more likely to have an agricultural background). The effects are driven by reductions in agricultural productivity and are strongest in rural areas. We also show that temperature shocks increase the value voters place on agricultural issues and on policies which mitigate the effects of extreme temperatures, such as irrigation.
    Date: 2023–10

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.
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