Is social capital persistent?: comparative measurement in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
Recently, there has been a growing interest in social capital and in the difficulties related to its measurement. In this paper, we propose to measure social capital by means of principal components analysis. Then, we present the first available international social capital estimates for the nineteenth century. Our analysis is based on a nineteenth-century international database containing a wide range of socio-economic variables. Social capital indicators are constructed for the years 1870 and 1890. Interestingly enough, these indicators are comparable to mid-twentieth century social indicators. This allows us to study the evolution of social capital between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We can make observations about the persistence of the social capital indicator, discovering some exceptional trajectories. In the very long run, we find a significant change in the relative position of the European countries.
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