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Considering the Role of Social Capital for Economic Development Outcomes in U.S. Counties


  • Michele Hoyman
  • Jamie McCall
  • Laurie Paarlberg
  • John Brennan


The authors examine major aspects of the connection between social capital and economic development in U.S. counties. They test the conclusions of Putnam, who saw associations as a force for positive development, and Olson, who concluded the opposite. The authors find that Putnam organizations have a negative effect on income, while Olson organizations have a positive effect by decreasing levels of income inequality. Drawing on the literature distinguishing between bridging versus bonding, the authors show that bridging capital has a positive effect on development by increasing per capita income, while bonding capital has a neutral effect on both per capita income and income inequality. Finally, religious variables are tested for their relationship with economic development. Overall, congregation density has a negative influence by increasing per capita income and income inequality, controlling for geographic type. Congregations with bridging characteristics have a mixed effect on development by decreasing income and decreasing inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Michele Hoyman & Jamie McCall & Laurie Paarlberg & John Brennan, 2016. "Considering the Role of Social Capital for Economic Development Outcomes in U.S. Counties," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 30(4), pages 342-357, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ecdequ:v:30:y:2016:i:4:p:342-357

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    Cited by:

    1. Pietro Battiston & Simona Gamba, 2016. "When the two ends meet: an experiment on cooperation across the Italian North-South divide," LEM Papers Series 2016/41, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    2. repec:bpj:nonpfo:v:8:y:2017:i:3:p:211-235:n:1 is not listed on IDEAS


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