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Social Capital and Basic Goods: The Cautionary Tale of Drinking Water in India


  • Sripad Motiram
  • Lars Osberg

    () (Department of Economics, Dalhousie University
    Department of Economics, Dalhousie University)


This study uses micro-data from the 1998-99 Indian Time Use Survey (ITUS; covering 77,593 persons in 18,591 households in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Orissa, and Haryana) to argue that time use data provides a natural metric for measuring "social capital" building activities and for distinguishing between the relative importance of "bonding" into groups or "bridging" within communities. The study examines the correlation between inequality in landownership, caste status, measures of local social capital, and whether or not a household will have to collect water. In India, the probability that a rural household fetches water is 4.8% and 9.1% lower in communities in which the average time spent on social interaction and community-based activities at the district-level doubles, but it is 18.9% greater when the time in group-based activities doubles. Inequalities in landownership and home ownership are associated with considerably larger differences in local tap water availability. (c) 2010 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
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  • Sripad Motiram & Lars Osberg, 2008. "Social Capital and Basic Goods: The Cautionary Tale of Drinking Water in India," Department of Economics at Dalhousie University working papers archive social_capital.pdf, Dalhousie, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:dal:wparch:social_capital.pdf

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    1. Avi J. Cohen, 2003. "Retrospectives: Whatever Happened to the Cambridge Capital Theory Controversies?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 199-214, Winter.
    2. Alatas, Vivi & Pritchett, Lant & Wetterberg, Anna, 2003. "Voice lessons : local government organizations, social organizations, and the quality of local governance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2981, The World Bank.
    3. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
    4. Joel Sobel, 2002. "Can We Trust Social Capital?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 139-154, March.
    5. Anthony Bebbington & Scott Guggenheim & Elizabeth Olson & Michael Woolcock, 2004. "Exploring Social Capital Debates at the World Bank," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(5), pages 33-64.
    6. Habyarimana, James P. & Humphreys, Macartan & Posner, Daniel N. & Weinstein, Jeremy, 2006. "Why Does Ethnic Diversity Undermine Public Goods Provision? An Experimental Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 2272, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. 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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