CIVICNESS DRAIN Emigrants’ self-selection and social norms in the place of origin

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 15.11.2016, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Andrea Ichino (European University Institute)


Evidence suggests that civicness, defined as unwillingness to cheat and free-ride, is not distributed homogenously across local environments. In particular this has been shown to hold in Italy, with large gaps between and within south and north. Among the various proposed explanations of this phenomenon, self-selection of emigrants as a function of social norms has been neglected. In particular, if honest citizens are more likely than cheaters to emigrate from non-civic environments, this could lead to a sort of “civicness drain” in some non-civic locations, which are therefore left in a trap difficult to surmount. To explore the validity of our conjecture, we have experimentally studied the migration decisions after high-school in Calabria (south Italy) in a two-step study. In the first step, we conducted experiments inside Calabrian high schools and measured civicness at the individual level and at the class level using an innovative method that incorporates a public good dimension into the increasingly popular die-roll task for eliciting propensity to lie. We have also collected information about other possible determinants of emigration, such as family background, wealth, individual ability, risk- and time- preferences. In the second step, we have conducted follow-up phone calls after the students have graduated from high school, in order to find out who emigrated to go to college or to work and where emigrants went. After controlling for other potential determinants, our preliminary analyses reveal a relevant role in emigration decisions for class-level civicness.

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