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Bonding Social Capital and Corruption: A Cross-National Empirical Analysis


  • Donna Harris

    () (Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, UK)


This paper considers the relationship between corruption and bonding social capital, which is characterised by high level of particularised trust and reciprocity amongst families and close friends. The main conjecture is that bonding social capital is likely to increase corruption and that it affects corruption not only directly, but also indirectly through other factors. Empirical results from the third wave of the World Value Survey confirm that bonding social capital leads to higher level of perceived corruption, particularly public and political corruption, when it discourages trust and cooperation towards outsiders. Bonding social capital also increases corruption indirectly by reducing opportunistic behaviour and imposing peer pressure on the ingroup members to reciprocate in a corrupt exchange i.e. to ‘return the favour’. This mechanism makes a corrupt transaction more predictable, i.e. increasing the confidence that the ‘goods’ will be delivered as promised and thus, leads to high level of corruption.

Suggested Citation

  • Donna Harris, 2007. "Bonding Social Capital and Corruption: A Cross-National Empirical Analysis," Environmental Economy and Policy Research Working Papers 27.2007, University of Cambridge, Department of Land Economics, revised 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:lnd:wpaper:200727

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    Cited by:

    1. Agata Stachowicz-Stanusch, 2013. "The relationship between National Intellectual Capital and corruption: a cross-national study," Journal of Business Economics and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1), pages 114-136, February.
    2. Jacopo Costa & Roberto Ricciuti, 2013. "Sources for the Euro Crisis: Bad Regulation and Weak Institutions in Peripheral Europe," Working Papers 15/2013, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
    3. Rotondi, Valentina & Stanca, Luca, 2015. "The effect of particularism on corruption: Theory and empirical evidence," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 219-235.
    4. Enste, Dominik & Heldman, Christina, 2017. "Causes and consequences of corruption: An overview of empirical results," IW-Reports 2/2017, Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft (IW) / German Economic Institute.
    5. Grießhaber, Nicolas & Geys, Benny, 2011. "Civic engagement and corruption in 20 European democracies," Discussion Papers, Research Professorship & Project "The Future of Fiscal Federalism" SP II 2011-103, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    6. Tolu Olarewaju & Jagannadha Pawan Tamvada & Sharin McDowall, 2021. "Generalised Trust and Relation Centrism for Corruption: Evidence from Low- and Middle-Income Countries," Discussion Papers 21-01, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.

    More about this item


    Corruption; Social Capital; Social Norms; Social Networks;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy
    • R4 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics

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