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Education and Social Capital

Author

Listed:
  • John F. Helliwell

    (University of British Columbia
    Canadian Institute for Advanced Research)

  • Robert D. Putnam

    (Harvard University
    University of Manchester)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • John F. Helliwell & Robert D. Putnam, 2007. "Education and Social Capital," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 1-19, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:33:y:2007:i:1:p:1-19
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    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. John F. Helliwell & Robert D. Putnam, 2007. "Education and Social Capital," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 1-19, Winter.
    4. 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.
    5. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-1160, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General

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