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The Relationship between Stress and Social Capital among Police Officers


  • Martin Gächter
  • David A. Savage
  • Benno Torgler


This paper analyzes the effectiveness of social capital in reducing the negative externalities associated with stress, as well as the physical and psychological indicators of stress among police officers. Despite the fact that there is a large multidisciplinary literature on stress or on social capital, the link between both factors is still underexplored. In this empirical paper we therefore aim at reducing such a shortcoming. We focus on a strategically important work environment, namely law enforcement agents, that is not only characterized as physically and emotionally demanding, but also as an essential part for a well-functioning society due to the fact that inefficiencies in the police force can induce large negative externalities. Using a multivariate regression analysis focusing on nine different proxies for stress and two proxies for social capital and conducting several robustness checks, we find strong evidence that an increased level of social capital is correlated with a lower level of stress. From a policy perspective, our findings suggest that stress reduction programs should actively engage employees to build stronger social networks.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Gächter & David A. Savage & Benno Torgler, 2009. "The Relationship between Stress and Social Capital among Police Officers," CREMA Working Paper Series 2009-23, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  • Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2009-23

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Zak, Paul J & Knack, Stephen, 2001. "Trust and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 295-321, April.
    2. Paldam, Martin, 2000. " Social Capital: One or Many? Definition and Measurement," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(5), pages 629-653, December.
    3. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-279, April.
    4. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2002. "Who trusts others?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 207-234, August.
    5. Benno Torgler, 2003. "Why do people go to war?," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 261-280.
    6. Swatt, Marc L. & Gibson, Chris L. & Piquero, Nicole Leeper, 2007. "Exploring the utility of general strain theory in explaining problematic alcohol consumption by police officers," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 596-611, December.
    7. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Randy Hodson, 2005. "Management Behaviour as Social Capital: A Systematic Analysis of Organizational Ethnographies," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 43(1), pages 41-65, March.
    9. Erdal Tekin, 2004. "Employment, Wages, and Alcohol Consumption in Russia," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 397-417, October.
    10. Benno Torgler, 2007. "Tax Compliance and Tax Morale," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 4096.
    11. Boix, Carles & Posner, Daniel N., 1998. "Social Capital: Explaining Its Origins and Effects on Government Performance," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 28(04), pages 686-693, October.
    12. He, Ni & Zhao, Jihong & Ren, Ling, 2005. "Do race and gender matter in police stress? A preliminary assessment of the interactive effects," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 535-547.
    13. Christopher F Baum, 2006. "An Introduction to Modern Econometrics using Stata," Stata Press books, StataCorp LP, number imeus, December.
    14. Stephens, Christine & Long, Nigel & Miller, Ian, 1997. "The impact of trauma and social support on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A study of New Zealand police officers," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 303-314.
    15. Benno Torgler & Markus Schaffner & Alison Macintyre, 2007. "Tax Compliance, Tax Morale And Governance Quality," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 225, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
    16. Schaltegger, Christoph A. & Torgler, Benno, 2007. "Government accountability and fiscal discipline: A panel analysis using Swiss data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 117-140, February.
    17. Stotland, Ezra, 1991. "The effects of police work and professional relationships on health," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 371-379.
    18. repec:hrv:faseco:30747160 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Woolcock, Michael & Narayan, Deepa, 2000. "Social Capital: Implications for Development Theory, Research, and Policy," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 15(2), pages 225-249, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dickinson, David L. & Masclet, David & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2015. "Norm enforcement in social dilemmas: An experiment with police commissioners," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 74-85.

    More about this item


    social capital; trust; stress; police officers;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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