IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Economic Progress, Social Regress?




A central issue in the debate regarding the relevance of social capital is whether the decline in social embeddedness that has attended modernization over the last 40 years in the United States is as harmful as Putnam, among others, claim it to be. Critics of Putnam's thesis argue that various arms-length institutions fulfil the roles performed by social capital thereby mitigating the negative impact of its recent decline. We develop a framework that provides insight into when such institutions may be adequate and when they might not. We find that if market (economic) and non-market (social) interactions differ in their payoffs but are interlinked through the modernization of the economy, the optimal level of modernization in market interactions will be higher than that in non-market interactions. Further, market supporting institutions are likely to increase the divergence between economic and social interactions since analogs for market institutions that constrain opportunistic behavior are usually nonexistent in social contexts. In this sense, economic progress may be accompanied by social regress. Copyright 2007 Blackwell Publishing, Inc..

Suggested Citation

  • Amy Farmer & Raja Kali, 2007. "Economic Progress, Social Regress?," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 9(3), pages 501-519, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:9:y:2007:i:3:p:501-519

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Lindner, Ines & Strulik, Holger, 2014. "From tradition to modernity: Economic growth in a small world," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 17-29.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:9:y:2007:i:3:p:501-519. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.