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Using Experimental Economics to Measure Social Capital and Predict Financial Decisions

  • Dean S. Karlan

Questions remain as to whether results from experimental economics are generalizable to real decisions in nonlaboratory settings. Furthermore, questions persist about whether social capital helps mitigate information asymmetries in credit markets. I examine whether behavior in two laboratory games, Trust and a Public Goods, predicts loan repayments to a Peruvian group-lending microfinance program. Since this program relies on social capital to enforce repayment, this tests the external validity of the games. Individuals identified as "trustworthy" by the Trust Game are indeed less likely to default on their loans. No similar support is found for the game's identification of "trusting" individuals.

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

Volume (Year): 95 (2005)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1688-1699

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:95:y:2005:i:5:p:1688-1699
Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282805775014407
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  1. DeanS. Karlan, 2007. "Social connections and group banking," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(517), pages F52-F84, 02.
  2. Laura Schechter, 2005. "Traditional trust measurement and the risk confound: An experiment in rural paraguay," Artefactual Field Experiments 00106, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. Edward L. Glaeser & David Laibson & Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "An Economic Approach to Social Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 437-458, November.
  4. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Observing unobservables: identifying information asymmetries with a consumer-credit field experiment," Proceedings 961, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Besley, T. & Coate, S. & Loury, G., 1990. "The Economics Of Rotating Savings And Credit Associations," Papers 149, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  6. Colin Camerer & Ernst Fehr & Herbert Gintis & Joseph Henrich & Richard McElreath & Robert Boyd & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "In search of homo economicus: Experiments in 15 small-scale societies," Artefactual Field Experiments 00068, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000. "A Debt Puzzle," Documentos de Trabajo 80, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Götte, 2005. "Do Workers Work More if Wages are High? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 125, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  9. Roth, Alvin E. & Vesna Prasnikar & Masahiro Okuno-Fujiwara & Shmuel Zamir, 1991. "Bargaining and Market Behavior in Jerusalem, Ljubljana, Pittsburgh, and Tokyo: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1068-95, December.
  10. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. 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.
  12. Chaim Fershtman & Uri Gneezy, 2001. "Discrimination In A Segmented Society: An Experimental Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 351-377, February.
  13. Dean S. Karlan, 2005. "Social Connections and Group Banking," Working Papers 913, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  14. Christiaan Grootaert & Thierry Van Bastelar, 2002. "Understanding and Measuring Social Capital : A Multidisciplinary Tool for Practitioners," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14098, December.
  15. Dean S. Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries with a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," Working Papers 911, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  16. Joseph Henrich, 2001. "In Search of Homo Economicus: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 73-78, May.
  17. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  18. Dean Karlan & Nava Ashaf & Wesley Yin, 2004. "Tying odysseus to the mast: Evidence from a commitment savings product in the philippines," Natural Field Experiments 00206, The Field Experiments Website.
  19. Kennedy, Bruce P. & Kawachi, Ichiro & Prothrow-Stith, Deborah & Lochner, Kimberly & Gupta, Vanita, 1998. "Social capital, income inequality, and firearm violent crime," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 7-17, July.
  20. Carol C. Bertaut & Michael Haliassos, 2001. "Debt Revolvers for Self Control," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 0208, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
  21. Fisman, Raymond & Khanna, Tarun, 1999. "Is trust a historical residue? Information flows and trust levels," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 79-92, January.
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