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Microfoundations of Social Capital

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  • Christian Thöni

    (University of St. Gallen)

  • Jean-Robert Tyran

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Erik Wengström

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

We show that the standard trust question routinely used in social capital research is importantly related to cooperation behavior and we provide a microfoundation for this relation. We run a large-scale public goods experiment over the internet in Denmark and find that the trust question is a proxy for cooperation preferences rather than beliefs about others’ cooperation. To disentangle the preference and belief channels, we run a (standard) public goods game in which beliefs matter for cooperation choices and one (using the strategy method) in which they do not matter. We show that the “fairness question”, a recently proposed alternative to the “trust question”, is also related to cooperation behavior but operates through beliefs rather than preferences.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 09-24.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision: Sep 2010
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0924

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Keywords: Social capital; Trust; Fairness; Public goods; Cooperation; Experiment;

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References

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