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Social Capital as Good Culture

  • Luigi Guiso
  • Paola Sapienza
  • Luigi Zingales

To explain the extremely long-term persistence (more than 500 years) of positive historical experiences of cooperation (Putnam 1993), we model the intergenerational transmission of priors about the trustworthiness of others. We show that this transmission tends to be biased toward excessively conservative priors. As a result, societies can be trapped in a low-trust equilibrium. In this context, a temporary shock to the return to trusting can have a permanent effect on the level of trust. We validate the model by testing its predictions on the World Values Survey data and the German Socio Economic Panel. We also present some anecdotal evidence that differences in priors across regions are reflected in the spirit of the novels that originate from those regions.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13712.

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Date of creation: Dec 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2008. "Alfred Marshall Lecture Social Capital as Good Culture," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 295-320, 04-05.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13712
Note: POL
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  1. Guiso, Luigi & Paiella, Monica, 2001. "Risk Aversion, Wealth and Background Risk," CEPR Discussion Papers 2728, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  3. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2008. "Long Term Persistence," EIEF Working Papers Series 0810, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Aug 2008.
  4. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "Trust in Large Organizations," NBER Working Papers 5864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2006. "Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5505, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2005. "Trusting the Stock Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 5288, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Guido Tabellini, 2007. "The Scope of Cooperation: Norms and Incentives," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000866, David K. Levine.
  9. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond The Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, And The Evolution Of Ethnic And Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988, August.
  10. Guido Tabellini, 2006. "Culture and institutions: economic development in the regions of Europe," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000241, David K. Levine.
  11. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 5026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Alesina, Alberto F & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2000. "Who Trusts Others?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2646, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Alesina, Alberto & Giuliano, Paola, 2007. "The Power of the Family," IZA Discussion Papers 2750, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. 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.
  15. Cipriani, Marco & Giuliano, Paola & Jeanne, Olivier, 2007. "Like Mother Like Son? Experimental Evidence on the Transmission of Values from Parents to Children," IZA Discussion Papers 2768, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2003. "People's opium? Religion and economic attitudes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 225-282, January.
  17. Oliver E. Williamson, 2000. "The New Institutional Economics: Taking Stock, Looking Ahead," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 595-613, September.
  18. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "Human Capital and Social Capital: The Rise of Secondary Schooling in America, 1910 to 1940," NBER Working Papers 6439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2002. "Maintenance of and Innovation in Long-Term Panel Studies: The Case of the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP)," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 276, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  20. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2005. "Cultural Biases in Economic Exchange," 2005 Meeting Papers 234, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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