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Social Capital vs Institutions in the Growth Process

  • Ahlerup, Pelle

    ()

    (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Olsson, Ola

    ()

    (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Yanagizawa, David

    ()

    (Stockholm University)

Is social capital always important for economic growth? A number of recent micro studies suggest that interpersonal trust and social capital will have its greatest impact on economic performance when court institutions are relatively weak. The conventional wisdom from macro studies, however, is that social capital is unconditionally good for growth. On the basis of the micro evidence, we outline an investment game between a producer and a lender in an incomplete-contracts setting. A key insight is that social capital will have the greatest e¤ect on the total surplus from the game at lower levels of institutional strength and that the effect of social capital vanishes when institutions are very strong. When we bring this prediction to an empirical cross-country growth regression, it is shown that the marginal effect of social capital (in the form of inter- personal trust) decreases with institutional strength. Our results imply that a one standard deviation rise in social capital in weakly institutionalized Nigeria should increase economic growth by 1.8 percentage points, whereas the same increase in social capital only increases growth by 0.3 percentage points in strongly institutionalized Canada.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/3140
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Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 248.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 09 Mar 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0248
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Phone: 031-773 10 00
Web page: http://www.handels.gu.se/econ/
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  1. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Wacziarg, Romain & Alesina, Alberto & Devleeschauwer, Arnaud & Easterly, William & Kurlat, Sergio, 2002. "Fractionalization," Research Papers 1744, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  3. Zak, Paul J & Knack, Stephen, 2001. "Trust and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 295-321, April.
  4. Bockstette, Valerie & Chanda, Areendam & Putterman, Louis, 2002. " States and Markets: The Advantage of an Early Start," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 347-69, December.
  5. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Sjoerd Beugelsdijk & Henri L.F. de Groot & Anton B.T.M. van Schaik, 2004. "Trust and economic growth: a robustness analysis," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(1), pages 118-134, January.
  7. John F. Helliwell, 1996. "Economic Growth and Social Capital in Asia," NBER Working Papers 5470, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
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