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Social Status and Influence: Evidence from an Artefactual Field Experiment on Local Public Good Provision

Giovanna d'Adda

No 22, Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 from Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics

Abstract: I look at the effect of social status on transmission of pro-social behavior. In an artefactual field experiment conducted in northern Colombia I observe contribution to local biodiversity conservation. The design varies whether choice is observable or not and social status of observing/observed individuals. Status is derived from a social ranking exercise identifying formal and moral leaders within the community. I find that leaders have higher valuation of the common good and that their giving is less volatile in the face of exposure to participants contributing lower amounts. Social information on others giving is particularly effective when low status participants are able to observe leaders' choices. I interpret the results as evidence in favor of preference-based altruism and upward social comparison theories. The findings confirm those of laboratory experiments on status in a field setting and with naturally occurring leaders. The study has relevant policy implications in terms of targeting of development programs and questions the commonly held negative view of elites in developing countries.

Date: 2011
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-evo, nep-exp, nep-pbe and nep-soc
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (1)

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