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Social Capital and the Reproduction of Inequality in Socially Polarized Economies

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  • Mogues, Tewodaj

    (U of Wisconsin)

  • Carter, Michael R.

Abstract

This paper explores the idea that how wealth is distributed across social groups (ethnic or language groups, gender, etc.) fundamentally affects the evolution of economic inequality. By providing microfoundations suitable for this exploration, this paper hopes to enhance our understanding of when social forces contribute to the reproduction of economic inequality. In tackling this issue, this paper offers contributions in two domains. First, it models social capital as a real capital asset with direct use and collateral value. Second, it extends the concepts of identity, alienation and polarization used by Esteban and Ray (1994). This generalization permits us to consider the multiple characteristics that shape social identity, inclusion and exclusion. It also underwrites a higher-order measure of socio-economic polarization that permits us to explore the hypothesis that economic inequality is most pernicious and persistent when it is socially embedded. Among other things we are able to show that holding constant the initial levels of economic polarization and wealth inequality, higher socio-economic polarization increases subsequent income and wealth inequality. Far from being a distributionally neutral panacea for missing markets, social capital in this model may itself generate exclusion and deepen social and economic cleavages.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Wisconsin, Agricultural and Applied Economics in its series Staff Paper Series with number 476.

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Date of creation: Jul 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:wisagr:476

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  1. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
  2. Steven N. Durlauf & Marcel Fafchamps, 2004. "Social Capital," NBER Working Papers 10485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Durlauf, Steven N. & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2005. "Social Capital," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 26, pages 1639-1699 Elsevier.
  3. Aghion, Philippe & Caroli, Eve & Garcia-Penalosa, Cecilia, 1999. "Inequality and economic growth: the perspective of the new growth theories," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9908, CEPREMAP.
  4. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2000. "Participation In Heterogeneous Communities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 847-904, August.
  5. Joan-Maria Esteban & Debraj Ray, 1991. "On the Measurement of Polarization," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 18, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  6. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1995. "Group lending, repayment incentives and social collateral," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-18, February.
  8. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  9. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
  10. Marcel Fafchamps & Bart Minten, 1999. "Relationships and traders in Madagascar," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(6), pages 1-35.
  11. Coate, Stephen & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Reciprocity without commitment : Characterization and performance of informal insurance arrangements," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-24, February.
  12. Benoit, Jean-Pierre & Krishna, Vijay, 1985. "Finitely Repeated Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(4), pages 905-22, July.
  13. Birdsall, Nancy & Londono, Juan Luis, 1997. "Asset Inequality Matters: An Assessment of the World Bank's Approach to Poverty Reduction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 32-37, May.
  14. Durlauf,S.N., 1999. "The case "against" social capital," Working papers 29, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  15. Howard Bodenhorn & Christopher S. Ruebeck, 2003. "The Economics of Identity and the Endogeneity of Race," NBER Working Papers 9962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1998. "New ways of looking at old issues: inequality and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 259-287.
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Cited by:
  1. Michael Carter & Peter Little & Tewodaj Mogues & Workneh Negatu, 2005. "Shocks, Sensitivity and Resilience: Tracking the Economic Impacts of Environmental Disaster on Assets in Ethiopia and Honduras," Development and Comp Systems 0511029, EconWPA.
  2. Gustafson, Cole R., 2004. "Value Of Social Capital To Mid-Sized Northern Plains Farms," Statistical Series Reports 23677, North Dakota State University, Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics.
  3. Gubert, Flore & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2007. "The Formation of Risk Sharing Networks," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/4392, Paris Dauphine University.
  4. Michael Carter & Christopher Barrett, 2006. "The economics of poverty traps and persistent poverty: An asset-based approach," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(2), pages 178-199.
  5. Nathan Fiala, 2012. "The Economic Consequences of Forced Displacement," HiCN Working Papers 137, Households in Conflict Network.

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