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Do we need to worry if people bowl alone? Results from a field experiment with voluntary association members


  • Giacomo Degli Antoni

    () (University of Parma, Department of Law)


Trust in strangers is key for economic development. Social capital theory posits that participation in associations is essential to propagate trust in society, because membership instils trust both towards other members and generalised others. We provide an experimental test for this thesis. We measure members' trust and trustworthiness when interacting with fellow members or with people from the general population, who are not association members. We find that members trust and reward trust more than non- members, and do not discriminate between members and the general population. However, we find no correlation between the intensity of associational participation and increased pro-sociality.Length: 17

Suggested Citation

  • Giacomo Degli Antoni, 2014. "Do we need to worry if people bowl alone? Results from a field experiment with voluntary association members," Econometica Working Papers wp51, Econometica.
  • Handle: RePEc:ent:wpaper:wp51

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Giacomo Degli Antoni & Fabio Sabatini, 2013. "Disentangling the relationship between nonprofit and social capital: the role of social cooperatives and social welfare associations in the development of networks of strong and weak ties," Econometica Working Papers wp48, Econometica.
    3. Giacomo Degli Antoni & Gianluca Grimalda, 2013. "Optimistic expectations or other-regarding preferences? Analysing the determinants of trust among association members," Working Papers 2013/21, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
    4. Fabio Sabatini & Francesca Modena & Ermanno Tortia, 2014. "Do cooperative enterprises create social trust?," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 621-641, March.
    5. Giacomo Degli Antoni, 2009. "Voluntary Associations and Trustworthiness: An Empirical Examination at Italian Regional Level," AIEL Series in Labour Economics,in: Marco Musella & Sergio Destefanis (ed.), Paid and Unpaid Labour in the Social Economy. An International Perspective, edition 1, chapter 11, pages 183-196 AIEL - Associazione Italiana Economisti del Lavoro.
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    More about this item


    trust; voluntary associations; ingroup favouritism; field experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D69 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Other
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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