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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. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2008. "Long Term Persistence," CEPR Discussion Papers 6981, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1995. "Crime and Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 5026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  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. Guido Tabellini, 2010. "Culture and Institutions: Economic Development in the Regions of Europe," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 677-716, 06.
  9. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2005. "Cultural Biases in Economic Exchange," 2005 Meeting Papers 234, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Alberto Alesina & Paola Giuliano, 2010. "The power of the family," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 93-125, June.
  14. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2005. "Trusting the Stock Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 5288, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Luigi Guiso & Monica Paiella, 2007. "Risk Aversion, Wealth, and Background Risk," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/47, European University Institute.
  16. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2002. "Who trusts others?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 207-234, August.
  17. Cipriani, Marco & Giuliano, Paola & Jeanne, Olivier, 2013. "Like mother like son? Experimental evidence on the transmission of values from parents to children," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 100-111.
  18. 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.
  19. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  20. Guido Tabellini, 2007. "The Scope of Cooperation: Norms and Incentives," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000866, David K. Levine.
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