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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
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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
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  1. Guido Tabellini, 2006. "Culture and institutions: economic development in the regions of Europe," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000466, David K. Levine.
  2. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2005. "Cultural Biases in Economic Exchange," 2005 Meeting Papers 234, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Glaeser, Edward L & Sacerdote, Bruce & Scheinkman, Jose A, 1996. "Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 507-48, May.
  4. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2002. "People's Opium? Religion and Economic Attitudes," NBER Working Papers 9237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Alberto Alesina & Paola Giuliano, 2007. "The Power of the Family," NBER Working Papers 13051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2013. "Long-term Persistence," EIEF Working Papers Series 1323, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Sep 2013.
  9. Luigi Guiso & Monica Paiella, 2008. "Risk Aversion, Wealth, and Background Risk," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(6), pages 1109-1150, December.
  10. 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.
  11. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2006. "Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 23-48, Spring.
  12. 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.
  13. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2005. "Trusting the Stock Market," NBER Working Papers 11648, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Guido Tabellini, 2007. "The Scope of Cooperation: Norms and Incentives," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000866, David K. Levine.
  15. Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1999. "Beyond the Melting Pot: Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," Papers 1999-10, Laval - Laboratoire Econometrie.
  16. Alesina, Alberto F & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2000. "Who Trusts Others?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2646, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. 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).
  18. 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.
  19. La Porta, Rafael, et al, 1997. "Trust in Large Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 333-38, May.
  20. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
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