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Using Experimental Economics to Measure Social Capital And Predict Financial Decisions

  • Dean S. Karlan

    ()

    (Economic Growth Center, Yale University and Princeton University)

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    Questions remain as to whether results from experimental economics games are generalizable to real decisions in non-laboratory settings. Furthermore, important questions persist about whether social capital can help solve seemingly missing credit markets. I conduct two experiments, a Trust game and a Public Goods game, and a survey to measure social capital. I then examine whether behavior in the games predicts repayment of loans to a Peruvian group lending microfinance program. Since the structure of these loans relies heavily on social capital to enforce repayment, this is a relevant and important test of the games, as well as of other measures of social capital. I find that individuals identified as "trustworthy" by the Trust game are in fact less likely to default on their loans. I do not find similar support for the Trust game as a measure of trust.

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    File URL: http://www.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp909.pdf
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    Paper provided by Economic Growth Center, Yale University in its series Working Papers with number 909.

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    Length: 20 pages
    Date of creation: Apr 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:909
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    1. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000. "A Debt Puzzle," Documentos de Trabajo 80, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    2. Nava Ashraf & Dean S. Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2005. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," Working Papers 917, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    3. Besley, T. & Coate, S. & Loury, G., 1990. "The Economics Of Rotating Savings And Credit Associations," Working papers 556, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    4. Schechter, Laura, 2007. "Traditional trust measurement and the risk confound: An experiment in rural Paraguay," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 272-292, February.
    5. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    6. Edward L. Glaeser & David Laibson & Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "An Economic Approach to Social Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 437-458, November.
    7. Chaim Fershtman & Uri Gneezy, 2001. "Discrimination In A Segmented Society: An Experimental Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 351-377, February.
    8. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
    9. Abigail Barr, 2003. "Trust and expected trustworthiness: experimental evidence from zimbabwean villages," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(489), pages 614-630, 07.
    10. Carol C. Bertaut & Michael Haliassos, 2001. "Debt Revolvers for Self Control," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 0208, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
    11. Alvin E. Roth & V. Prasnikar & M. Okuno-Fujiwara & S. Zamir, 1998. "Bargaining and market behavior in Jerusalem, Liubljana, Pittsburgh and Tokyo: an experimental study," Levine's Working Paper Archive 344, David K. Levine.
    12. Kennedy, Bruce P. & Kawachi, Ichiro & Prothrow-Stith, Deborah & Lochner, Kimberly & Gupta, Vanita, 1998. "Social capital, income inequality, and firearm violent crime," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 7-17, July.
    13. Dean Karlan & Nava Ashaf & Wesley Yin, 2004. "Tying odysseus to the mast: Evidence from a commitment savings product in the philippines," Natural Field Experiments 00206, The Field Experiments Website.
    14. Joseph Henrich & Robert Boyd & Samuel Bowles & Colin Camerer & Ernst Fehr & Herbert Gintis & Richard McElreath, 2001. "Cooperation, Reciprocity and Punishment in Fifteen Small-scale Societies," Working Papers 01-01-007, Santa Fe Institute.
    15. Knack, Stephen & Keefer, Philip, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-88, November.
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