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Social Capital and Contributions in a Public-Goods Experiment

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  • Lisa R. Anderson
  • Jennifer M. Mellor
  • Jeffrey Milyo

Abstract

Recent empirical studies from across the social and behavioral sciences find that social capital is associated with various measures of well-being, including economic growth (Stephen Knack and Phillip Keefer 1997) and mortality (Ichiro Kawachi, Bruce P. Kennedy and Kimberly Lochner 1997). These findings have inspired subsequent studies by economists examining the determinants of individual level measures of social capital (e.g., Alberto Alesina and Elianna La Ferrara 2002). However, experimental evidence from trust games conducted by Edward L. Glaeser, David I. Laibson, Jose A. Scheinkman and Christine L. Soutter (2001) calls into question the efficacy of the most prevalent measures of social capital employed in the literature. In contrast, we show that these same measures are significantly associated with contributions in a public goods experiment and perform as well as the alternative measures of social trust suggested by Glaeser, et al. Because social capital is thought to influence wellbeing through its effect on public good provision, our results bolster previous empirical work on the causes and consequences of social capital.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 94 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 373-376

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:94:y:2004:i:2:p:373-376

Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828041302082
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  1. Knack, Stephen & Keefer, Philip, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-88, November.
  2. Jeffrey Milyo & Jennifer M. Mellor & Lisa Anderson, 2004. "Inequality, Group Cohesion, and Public Good Provision: An Experimental Analysis," Working Papers 0418, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 27 Dec 2004.
  3. Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Daniere, Amrita G. & Takahashi, Lois M., 2004. "Cooperation, trust, and social capital in Southeast Asian urban slums," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 533-551, December.
  4. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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