Socializing Interactions and Social Attitude Formation
Social attitudes (beliefs) are increasingly being recognized as factors that are important in determination of the outcomes that interests economists. In the United States as Glaeser and Ward (2006) have shown, the differences in beliefs on social issues such as acceptability of legal abortion or homosexuality exhibit remarkable differences and vary widely across space. Ansolabehere et al. (2006) using the red state (republicans) blue state (democrat) distinction show that differences across these regions among voters was much more prominent in terms of moral (social) issues than economic issues in the 1970s and 1980s. What could explain the differences in beliefs across space? One possibility that can explain the observed patterns of distribution of social attitudes could be the effect of local socializing interactions. If the views of the people are conditioned mostly by those around them as Glaeser and Ward (2006) have argued then the observed patterns of social attitudes could be a result of the nature of socializing interactions. In this paper, we investigate the role of socializing interactions in determining socialattitudes in American communities. Using data on social attitudes and socializing interactions at the community level, we show that local interactions do affect the formation of social attitudes significantly. Moreover, the effect varies across the type of socializing interactions. Memberships in non-religious organizations and interaction with friends have an effect towards more libertarian social attitudes (agreeable to euthanasia, abortion, homosexuality and greater tolerance towards marginalized groups). Interactions with family have the opposite effect towards the formation of social attitudes. Our estimation uses a range of economic, social and demographic controls at the cluster level. We interpret our results drawing from the social psychology literature where the interactions that bring contacts with individuals with certain attributes (such as homosexuality) or with individuals with certain views about individual attributes (i.e. having a more favorable view about homosexuals) leads to more agreeable positions. The types of interactions differ in the possibilities that they contain in terms of allowing such contacts.
|Date of creation:||2008|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://spears.okstate.edu/ecls-working-papers/|
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