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At the root of the North-South cooperation gap in Italy: Preferences or beliefs?


  • M.Bigoni
  • S. Bortolotti
  • M. Casari
  • D. Gambetta


The marked difference in the development of the North and the South of Italy represents a prototypical case of seemingly intractable within-country disparities. Recent research found that a plausible determinant of this socio-economic gap would be a difference in the ability to cooperate. Through a laboratory experiment we investigate whence this difference derives, whether from different preferences or from different beliefs. Our findings indicate that Northerners and Southerners share the same individual pro-social preferences, and that the cooperation gap lies rather in the pessimistic beliefs that Southerners have about their cooperativeness. Southerners, furthermore, manifest a stronger aversion to social risk, as compared to the risk of nature. A policy implication is that an intervention or an event that reduced pessimistic beliefs would directly boost cooperation levels.

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  • M.Bigoni & S. Bortolotti & M. Casari & D. Gambetta, 2017. "At the root of the North-South cooperation gap in Italy: Preferences or beliefs?," Working Papers wp1092, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  • Handle: RePEc:bol:bodewp:wp1092

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2012. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Risk and Trust Attitudes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 645-677.
    2. Maria Bigoni & Stefania Bortolotti & Marco Casari & Diego Gambetta & Francesca Pancotto, 2016. "Amoral Familism, Social Capital, or Trust? The Behavioural Foundations of the Italian North–South Divide," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(594), pages 1318-1341, August.
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    7. Pietro Battiston & Simona Gamba, 2016. "When the two ends meet: an experiment on cooperation across the Italian North-South divide," LEM Papers Series 2016/41, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
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    9. Devesh Rustagi & Marcella Veronesi, 2016. "Social Identity, Attitudes Towards Cooperation, and Social Preferences: Evidence From Switzerland," Working Papers 01/2016, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
    10. Brosig-Koch, Jeannette & Helbach, Christoph & Ockenfels, Axel & Weimann, Joachim, 2011. "Still different after all these years: Solidarity behavior in East and West Germany," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1373-1376.
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    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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