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Cooperation Hidden Frontiers: The Behavioral Foundations of the Italian North-South Divide

Author

Listed:
  • Maria Bigoni
  • Stefania Bortolotti
  • Marco Casari
  • Diego Gambetta
  • Francesca Pancotto

Abstract

Socio-economic performance differs not only across countries but within countries too and can persist even after religion, language, and formal institutions are long shared. One interpretation of these disparities is that successful regions are characterized by higher levels of trust, and, more generally, of cooperation. Here we study a classic case of within-country disparities, the Italian North-South divide, to find out whether people exhibit geographically distinct abilities to cooperate independently of many other factors and whence these differences emerge. Through an experiment in four Italian cities, we study the behavior of a sample of the general population toward trust and contributions to the common good. We find that trust and contributions vary in unison, and diminish moving from North to South. This regional gap cannot be attributed to payoffs from cooperation or to institutions, formal or informal, that may vary across Italy, as the experimental methodology silences their impact. The gap is also independent of risk and other-regarding preferences which we measure experimentally, suggesting that the lower ability to cooperate we find in the South is not due to individual "moral" flaws. The gap could originate from emergent collective properties, such as different social norms and the expectations they engender. The absence of convergence in behavior during the last 150 years, since Italy was unified, further suggests that these norms can persist overtime. Using a millenniumlong dataset, we explore whether the quality of past political institutions and the frequency of wars could explain the emergence of these differences in norms.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Bigoni & Stefania Bortolotti & Marco Casari & Diego Gambetta & Francesca Pancotto, 2013. "Cooperation Hidden Frontiers: The Behavioral Foundations of the Italian North-South Divide," Economics Working Papers ECO2013/04, European University Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2013/04
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. D. Dragone & F. Galeotti & R. Orsini, 2013. "Temporary Workers Are Not Free-Riders: An Experimental Investigation," Working Papers wp915, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    2. Meier, Stephan & Pierce, Lamar & Vaccaro, Antonino, 2014. "Trust and In-Group Favoritism in a Culture of Crime," IZA Discussion Papers 8169, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Giacomo Degli Antoni & Gianluca Grimalda, 2013. "Optimistic expectations or other-regarding preferences? Analysing the determinants of trust among association members," Working Papers 2013/21, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
    4. Traviss Cassidy & Mark Dincecco & Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato, 2015. "The Economic Legacy of Warfare: Evidence from European Regions," Working Papers 6/2015, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, revised Jul 2015.
    5. John, Katrin & Thomsen, Stephan L., 2015. "School-track environment or endowment: What determines different other-regarding behavior across peer groups?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 122-141.
    6. Sabatini, Fabio & Sarracino, Francesco & Yamamura, Eiji, 2014. "Social norms on rent seeking and preferences for redistribution," EconStor Preprints 98662, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    7. Meier, Stephan & Pierce, Lamar & Vaccaro, Antonino & La Cara, Barbara, 2016. "Trust and in-group favoritism in a culture of crime," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PA), pages 78-92.
    8. Drew Fudenberg & David K Levine, 2016. "Whither Game Theory?," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000001307, David K. Levine.
    9. Davide Dragone & Fabio Galeotti & Raimondello Orsini, 2015. "Students, Temporary Workers and Co-Op Workers: An Experimental Investigation on Social Preferences," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(2), pages 1-45, May.
    10. Succurro, Marianna, 2014. "Intangible assets finance: a complementary or substitution effect between external and internal channels? Evidence from the Italian divide," MPRA Paper 57247, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. repec:ial:wpaper:7/2013 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. repec:beh:jbepv1:v:1:y:2017:i:1:p:61-68 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Trust; social norms; experiments; long-term persistence; conflicts; institutions.;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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