Economics at your fingertips  

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

Maria Bigoni (), Stefania Bortolotti (), Marco Casari, Diego Gambetta and Francesca Pancotto ()

No ECO2013/04, Economics Working Papers from European University Institute

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.

Keywords: Trust; social norms; experiments; long-term persistence; conflicts; institutions. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C90 D03 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-evo, nep-exp and nep-soc
Date: 2013
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations View citations in EconPapers (13) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link) main text

Related works:
Working Paper: Cooperation Hidden Frontiers: The Behavioral Foundations of the Italian North-South Divide (2013) Downloads
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

Access Statistics for this paper

More papers in Economics Working Papers from European University Institute Badia Fiesolana, Via dei Roccettini, 9, 50014 San Domenico di Fiesole (FI) Italy. Contact information at EDIRC.
Series data maintained by Julia Valerio ().

Page updated 2018-03-20
Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2013/04