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Reputation, Social Identity and Social Conflict

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  • John Smith

    ()
    (Rutgers University-Camden)

Abstract

We interpret the psychology literature on social identity and examine its implications in a population partially composed of such agents. We model a population of agents from two exogenous and well defined social groups. Agents are randomly matched to play a reduced form bargaining game. We show that this struggle for resources drives a conflict through the rational destruction of surplus. We assume that the population contains both rational players and behavioral players. Behavioral players aggressively discriminate against members of the other social group. The existence and specification of the behavioral player is motivated by the social identity literature. For rational players, group membership has no payoff relevant consequences. We show that rational players can contribute to the conflict by aggressively discriminating and that this behavior is consistent with existing empirical evidence. Our paper relates to the empirical literature which finds that our measure of social heterogeneity tends to be increasing in economic variables which we interpret as signifying inefficiency. We provide an explanation that, as social groups compete for the benefits of public goods, disagreement and inefficiency can result. Our work also relates to the social conflict literature, which examines the relationship between macro level factors such as unemployment and civil disturbances. This literature finds that the amount of social conflict tends to be increasing in what we refer to as the inequitability of the environment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Rutgers University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 200709.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: 14 Oct 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rut:rutres:200709

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Keywords: reputation; conflict; identity;

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References

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  1. Dan Silverman, 2004. "Street Crime And Street Culture," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(3), pages 761-786, 08.
  2. Werner Güth & M. Vittoria Levati & Matteo Ploner, 2007. "Social identity and trust - An experimental investigation," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2006-41, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
  3. Holger Strulik, 2004. "Social Composition, Social Conflict, and Economic Development," DEGIT Conference Papers c009_018, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  4. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  5. John B. Davis, 2005. "Social Identity Strategies in Recent Economics," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-078/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  6. Rapoport, Hillel & Weiss, Avi, 2003. "The optimal size for a minority," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 27-45, September.
  7. Lindqvist, Erik, 2008. "Identity and Redistribution," Working Paper Series 735, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  8. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
  9. Dominic Rohner, 2008. "Reputation, Group Structure and Social Tensions," HiCN Working Papers 40, Households in Conflict Network.
  10. Lorenz Goette & David Huffman & Stephan Meier, 2006. "The Impact of Group Membership on Cooperation and Norm Enforcement: Evidence Using Random Assignment to Real Social Groups," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 212-216, May.
  11. Basu, Kaushik, 2005. "Racial Conflict and the Malignancy of Identity," Working Papers 05-02, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  12. Easterly, W & Levine, R, 1996. "Africa's Growth Tragedy : Policies and Ethnic Divisions," Papers 536, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
  13. Gary Charness & Luca Rigotti & Aldo Rustichini, 2007. "Individual Behavior and Group Membership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1340-1352, September.
  14. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1997. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," NBER Working Papers 6009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  16. Rapoport, Hillel & Weiss, Avi, 2001. "The Optimal Size for a Minority," IZA Discussion Papers 284, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Erik Lindqvist & Robert Östling, 2013. "Identity and redistribution," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 155(3), pages 469-491, June.
  18. John B. Davis, 2005. "Social Identity Strategies in Recent Economics," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-078/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  19. Bridgman, Benjamin, 2008. "Why are ethnically divided countries poor?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 1-18, March.
  20. Vigdor, Jacob L., 2002. "Interpreting ethnic fragmentation effects," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 271-276, April.
  21. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1999. "Conflict and Distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 379-415, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Afridi, Farzana & Li, Sherry Xin & Ren, Yufei, 2012. "Social Identity and Inequality: The Impact of China's Hukou System," IZA Discussion Papers 6417, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Wagener, Andreas & Kolmar, Martin, 2011. "Group Identities in Conflicts," Annual Conference 2011 (Frankfurt, Main): The Order of the World Economy - Lessons from the Crisis 48694, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  3. Benabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2007. "Identity, Dignity and Taboos: Beliefs as Assets," IZA Discussion Papers 2583, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. David W. Johnston & Grace Lordan, 2014. "When Work Disappears: Racial Prejudice and Recession Labour Market Penalties," CEP Discussion Papers dp1257, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

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