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Education and Social Capital

  • John F. Helliwell

    ()

    (University of British Columbia
    Canadian Institute for Advanced Research)

  • Robert D. Putnam

    (Harvard University
    University of Manchester)

Education is usually the most important predictor of political and social engagement. Over the last half Century, educational levels in the United States have risen sharply, yet levels of political and social participation have not. Norman Nie, Jane Junn and Kenneth Stehlik-Barry (NJS-B) have offered a resolution to this paradox based on the distinction between absolute and relative education, with only relative education having positive effects on education. Using a broad range of data, including that used by NJS-B, this paper shows that increases in average education levels increases trust and does not reduce average participation levels. These results are found when we use a dynamic regional comparison group, theoretically preferable to NJS-B’s static national measure. Our results provide an optimistic conclusion about the effects of increases in education levels, while leaving open the explanation of declining participation levels. Our results suggest that exposure to television during childhood may play an important role in that story.

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File URL: http://college.holycross.edu/RePEc/eej/Archive/Volume33/V33N1P1_19.pdf
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Article provided by Eastern Economic Association in its journal Eastern Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 33 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
Pages: 1-19

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Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:33:y:2007:i:1:p:1-19
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  1. John F. Helliwell & Robert D. Putnam, 2007. "Education and Social Capital," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 1-19, Winter.
  2. Moretti, Enrico, 2004. "Estimating the social return to higher education: evidence from longitudinal and repeated cross-sectional data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 175-212.
  3. Kevin Milligan & Enrico Moretti & Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "Does Education Improve Citizenship? Evidence from the U.S. and the U.K," NBER Working Papers 9584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Milligan, Kevin & Moretti, Enrico & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2004. "Does education improve citizenship? Evidence from the United States and the United Kingdom," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1667-1695, August.
  5. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-60, September.
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