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

Listed author(s):
  • 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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Paper provided by Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna in its series Working Papers with number wp1092.

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Date of creation: Jan 2017
Handle: RePEc:bol:bodewp:wp1092
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  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. Ezcurra, Roberto & Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés, 2013. "Does Economic Globalization affect Regional Inequality? A Cross-country Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 92-103.
  3. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond the Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988.
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  5. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  6. 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.
  7. Bohnet, Iris & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2004. "Trust, risk and betrayal," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 467-484, December.
  8. 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.
  9. 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, 08.
  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.
  11. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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