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An Economic Approach to Social Capital

  • Edward L. Glaeser

    (Harvard University, Dartmouth University and NBER)

  • David Laibson

    (Harvard University, Dartmouth University and NBER)

  • Bruce Sacerdote

    (Harvard University, Dartmouth University and NBER)

A standard optimal investment model can be used to analyse an individual"s decision to accumulate social capital. We analyse six facts that support the predictions of this individual--based approach: (1) social capital first rises and then falls with age, (2) social capital declines with expected mobility, (3) social capital rises in occupations with greater returns to social skills, (4) social capital is higher among homeowners, (5) social connections fall sharply with physical distance, (6) people who invest in human capital also invest in social capital. We fail to find robust evidence that social capital investments fall with the value of time or that geographic/religious groups generate social capital complementarities. Copyright Royal Economic Society 2002

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Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 112 (2002)
Issue (Month): 483 (November)
Pages: 437-458

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:112:y:2002:i:483:p:437-458
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  1. Edward L. Glaeser & David I. Laibson & José A. Scheinkman & Christine L. Soutter, 2000. "Measuring Trust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 811-846, August.
    • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2000. "The Role of Social Capital in Financial Development," CRSP working papers 511, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  3. DiPasquale, Denise & Glaeser, Edward L., 1999. "Incentives and Social Capital: Are Homeowners Better Citizens?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 354-384, March.
  4. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, . "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Working Papers 151, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
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  6. John F. Helliwell & Robert D. Putnam, 1999. "Education and Social Capital," NBER Working Papers 7121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Scholarly Articles 4551796, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. La Porta, Rafael, et al, 1997. "Trust in Large Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 333-38, May.
  9. Kreps, David M. & Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Rational cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoners' dilemma," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 245-252, August.
  10. Glenn C. Loury, 1976. "A Dynamic Theory of Racial Income Differences," Discussion Papers 225, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  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. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
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