Thursday, October 20, 2011

Apologies and Social Capital

Apologies as Signals: With Evidence from a Trust Game, Benjamin Ho, Management Science, forthcoming

Abstract: Apologies are part of a social institution designed to restore frayed relationships not only in daily life but also in the domains of corporate governance, medical malpractice litigation, political reputation, organizational culture, etc. The theory shows that in a general class of moral hazard games with imperfect information about agents with two-dimensional type, apologies exhibit regular properties — e.g., apologies are more frequent in long relationships, early in relationships, and between better-matched partners. A variant of the trust game demonstrates that communication matters in a manner consistent with economic theory; specifically, the words “I am sorry” appear to select equilibrium behavior consistent with the theory's main predictions.


Does Social Capital Promote Safety on the Roads?, Matthew Nagler, Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

Abstract: I present evidence that social capital reduces traffic accidents and related death and injury, using data from a 10-year panel of 48 U.S. states. The econometric challenge is to distinguish the causal effects of social capital from bias resulting from its correlation with unobservable characteristics by state that influence road risks. I accomplish this by employing snow depth as an instrument, and by restricting attention to summertime accidents. My results show that social capital has a statistically significant and sizable negative effect on crashes, traffic fatalities, serious traffic injuries, and pedestrian fatalities that holds up across a range of specifications.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

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