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Social capital formation across space: proximity and trust in European regions

  • Giorgio Fazio
  • Luciano Lavecchia

An extensive economics and regional science literature has discussed the importance of social capital for economic growth and development. Yet, what social capital is and how it is formed are elusive issues, which require further investigation. Here, we refer to social capital in terms of “civic capital” and “good culture” as rephrased by Guiso, Sapienza and Zingales (2010) and Tabellini (2010). The accumulation of this kind of capital allows the emerging of regional informal institutions, which may help explaining differences in regional development. In this paper, we take a regional perspective and use exploratory space and space-time methods to assess whether geography, via proximity, contributes to the formation of social capital across European regions. In particular, we ask whether generalized trust, a fundamental constituent of social capital and an ingredient of economic development, tends to be clustered across space and over time. From the policy standpoint, the spatial “hysteresis” of regional trust may contribute to the formation of “spatial traps” of social capital and act as a further barrier to regional economic development and convergence.

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Paper provided by Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow in its series Working Papers with number 2012_07.

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Date of creation: May 2012
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Handle: RePEc:gla:glaewp:2012_07
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  1. Guido Tabellini, 2010. "Culture and Institutions: Economic Development in the Regions of Europe," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 677-716, 06.
  2. Ivan Faiella, 2010. "The use of survey weights in regression analysis," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 739, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  3. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2005. "Trusting the Stock Market," NBER Working Papers 11648, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2002. "Who trusts others?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 207-234, August.
  5. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2004. "The Role of Social Capital in Financial Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 526-556, June.
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