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Social capital and the reproduction of economic inequality in polarized societies

  • Mogues, Tewodaj
  • Carter, Michael

This paper explores the idea of how wealth is distributed across social groups (ethnic or language groups, gender, etc.) and how such distribution fundamentally affects the evolution of economic inequality. By providing microfoundations suitable for this exploration, the paper hopes to enhance the understanding of when social forces contribute to the reproduction of economic inequality. In tackling this issue, the 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 consideration of the multiple characteristics that shape social identity, inclusion and exclusion. It also underwrites a higher-order measure of socioeconomic polarization that permits exploration of the hypothesis that economic inequality is most pernicious and persistent when it is socially embedded. Among other things the paper shows that holding constant the initial levels of economic polarization and wealth inequality, higher socioeconomic 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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Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series DSGD discussion papers with number 25.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fpr:dsgddp:25
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  1. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1994. "On the Measurement of Polarization," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(4), pages 819-51, July.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, . "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Working Papers 151, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  3. Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Adolfo Figueroa, 2003. "La sociedad sigma: una teoría del desarrollo económico," Libros PUCP / PUCP Books, Fondo Editorial de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, edition 1, number lde-2003-04, November.
  5. Mogues, Tewodaj, 2008. "A two-dimensional measure of polarization:," IFPRI discussion papers 837, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  6. Jean-Yves Duclos & Joan Esteban & Debraj Ray, 2004. "Polarization: Concepts, Measurement, Estimation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(6), pages 1737-1772, November.
  7. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
  8. Garcia-Penalosa, Cecilia & Aghion, Philippe & Caroli, Eve, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/10091, Paris Dauphine University.
  9. 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.
  10. Benoit, Jean-Pierre & Krishna, Vijay, 1985. "Finitely Repeated Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(4), pages 905-22, July.
  11. 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 225-49, August.
  12. Narayan, Deepa & Pritchett, Lant, 1997. "Cents and sociability : household income and social capital in rural Tanzania," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1796, The World Bank.
  13. Besley, T. & Coate, S., 1991. "Group Lending, Repayment Incentives And Social Collateral," Papers 152, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  14. Glenn C. Loury, 2000. "Social Exclusion and Ethnic Groups: The Challenge to Economics," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 106, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  15. Hanming Fang & Glenn C. Loury, 2004. "Toward an Economic Theory of Dysfunctional Identity," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-146, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  16. Marcel Fafchamps & Bart Minten, 1999. "Relationships and traders in Madagascar," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(6), pages 1-35.
  17. 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.
  18. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  19. Laing, Derek, 1994. "Firm Specific Human Capital as an Employer Discipline Device," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 32(1), pages 128-37, January.
  20. Kuran, Timur, 1998. "Ethnic Norms and Their Transformation through Reputational Cascades," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 623-59, June.
  21. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Scholarly Articles 4551796, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  22. Adolfo Figueroa & Teofilo Altamirano & Denis Sulmont, 1996. "Social exclusion and inequality in Peru," Libros de otras Editoriales, Departamento de Economía - Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, edition 1, number otr-1996-02, March.
  23. Udry, Christopher, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in a Rural Credit Market: An Empirical Investigation in Northern Nigeria," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 495-526, July.
  24. 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.
  25. Marcel Fafchamps, 2002. "Returns to social network capital among traders," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(2), pages 173-206, April.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
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