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Microfoundations of Social Capital

Author

Listed:
  • Christian Thöni

    (University of St. Gallen)

  • Jean-Robert Tyran

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Erik Wengström

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

We show that the standard trust question routinely used in social capital research is importantly related to cooperation behavior and we provide a microfoundation for this relation. We run a large-scale public goods experiment over the internet in Denmark and find that the trust question is a proxy for cooperation preferences rather than beliefs about others’ cooperation. To disentangle the preference and belief channels, we run a (standard) public goods game in which beliefs matter for cooperation choices and one (using the strategy method) in which they do not matter. We show that the “fairness question”, a recently proposed alternative to the “trust question”, is also related to cooperation behavior but operates through beliefs rather than preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Thöni & Jean-Robert Tyran & Erik Wengström, 2009. "Microfoundations of Social Capital," Discussion Papers 09-24, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Sep 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0924
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social capital; Trust; Fairness; Public goods; Cooperation; Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games

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