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Trust, Social Capital and Economic Development

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Author Info

  • Francois, P.
  • Zabojnik, J.

    (Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research)

Abstract

Many argue that elements of a society s norms, culture or social capital are central to understanding its development.However, these notions have been difficult to capture in economic models.Here we argue that trustworthiness is the economically relevant component of a society s culture and hence comprises its social capital.Individuals are trustworthy when they perform actions they have promised, even if these do not maximize their payoffs.The usual focus on incentive structures in motivating behaviour plays no role here.Instead, we emphasize more deep-seated modes of behaviour and consider that trustworthy agents are socialized to act as they do.To model this socialization, we borrow from a relatively new process of preference evolution pioneered by Bisin and Verdier (2001).The model developed endogenously accounts for social capital and explores its role in the process of economic development.It captures in a simple, formal way the interaction between social capital and the economy s productive process.The results obtained caution against rapid reform, provide an explanation for why late developing countries cannot easily transplant the modes of production that have proved useful in the West, and suggest an explanation for the pattern of reform experiences in ex-communist countries.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research in its series Discussion Paper with number 2003-116.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:kubcen:2003116

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Web page: http://center.uvt.nl

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Keywords: technological change; public finance; economic development;

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  1. Chris Shannon, 2003. "What to Maximize if You Must," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000044, UCLA Department of Economics.
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