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Social Capital and the Reproduction of Inequality in Socially Polarized Economies

Listed author(s):
  • Mogues, Tewodaj

    (U of Wisconsin)

  • Carter, Michael R.

This paper explores the idea that how wealth is distributed across social groups (ethnic or language groups, gender, etc.) fundamentally affects the evolution of economic inequality. By providing microfoundations suitable for this exploration, this paper hopes to enhance our understanding of when social forces contribute to the reproduction of economic inequality. In tackling this issue, this paper offers contributions in two domains. First, it models social capital as a real capital asset with direct use and collateral value. Second, it extends the concepts of identity, alienation and polarization used by Esteban and Ray (1994). This generalization permits us to consider the multiple characteristics that shape social identity, inclusion and exclusion. It also underwrites a higher-order measure of socio-economic polarization that permits us to explore the hypothesis that economic inequality is most pernicious and persistent when it is socially embedded. Among other things we are able to show that holding constant the initial levels of economic polarization and wealth inequality, higher socio-economic polarization increases subsequent income and wealth inequality. Far from being a distributionally neutral panacea for missing markets, social capital in this model may itself generate exclusion and deepen social and economic cleavages.

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File URL: http://www.aae.wisc.edu/pubs/sps/pdf/stpap476.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Wisconsin, Agricultural and Applied Economics in its series Staff Paper Series with number 476.

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Date of creation: Jul 2004
Handle: RePEc:ecl:wisagr:476
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  1. Aghion, Philippe & Caroli, Eve & García-Peñalosa, Cecilia, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Scholarly Articles 12502063, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Marcel Fafchamps & Bart Minten, 1999. "Relationships and traders in Madagascar," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(6), pages 1-35.
  3. Durlauf,S.N., 1999. "The case "against" social capital," Working papers 29, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  4. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 847-904.
  5. Steven N. Durlauf & Marcel Fafchamps, 2004. "Social Capital," CSAE Working Paper Series 2004-14, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    • Durlauf, Steven N. & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2005. "Social Capital," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 26, pages 1639-1699 Elsevier.
  6. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
  7. Coate, Stephen & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Reciprocity without commitment : Characterization and performance of informal insurance arrangements," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-24, February.
  8. Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1994. "On the Measurement of Polarization," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(4), pages 819-851, July.
  10. repec:dau:papers:123456789/10091 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Howard Bodenhorn & Christopher S. Ruebeck, 2003. "The Economics of Identity and the Endogeneity of Race," NBER Working Papers 9962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
  13. Birdsall, Nancy & Londono, Juan Luis, 1997. "Asset Inequality Matters: An Assessment of the World Bank's Approach to Poverty Reduction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 32-37, May.
  14. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1998. "New ways of looking at old issues: inequality and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 259-287.
  15. Besley, T. & Coate, S., 1991. "Group Lending, Repayment Incentives And Social Collateral," Papers 152, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  16. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
  17. Benoit, Jean-Pierre & Krishna, Vijay, 1985. "Finitely Repeated Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(4), pages 905-922, July.
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