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Do Borders Matter for Social Capital? Economic Growth and Civic Culture in U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

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  • John F. Helliwell

Abstract

The paper first assesses regional and ethnic group differences in social trust and memberships in both Canada and the United States. The ethnic categories people choose to describe themselves are as important as regional differences, but much less important than education, in explaining differences in trust. Respondents who qualify their nationality by any of seven adjectives, a feature more prevalent in the United States than in Canada, (black, white, Hispanic and Asian in the United States; French, English and Ethnic in Canada) have lower levels of trust than those who consider themselves Canadians or Americans either first or only. The dispersion of incomes across states or provinces has been dropping in both countries, but faster in Canada than in the United States. The 1980s increase in regional income disparity in the United States has no parallel in Canada. In neither country is there evidence that per capita economic growth is faster in regions marked by high levels of trust. However, U.S. migrants tend to move to states with higher perceived levels of trust, thus contributing to higher total growth in those states. The economic responsiveness of migration appears to be even stronger in Canada than in the United States, despite the much more extensive systems of fiscal equalization and social safety nets in Canada.

Suggested Citation

  • John F. Helliwell, 1996. "Do Borders Matter for Social Capital? Economic Growth and Civic Culture in U.S. States and Canadian Provinces," NBER Working Papers 5863, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5863
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John F. Helliwell, 1996. "Economic Growth and Social Capital in Asia," NBER Working Papers 5470, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Crihfield, John B. & Giertz, J. Fred & Mehta, Shekhar, 1995. "Economic growth in the American states: The end of convergence?," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(35), pages 551-577.
    3. McCallum, John, 1995. "National Borders Matter: Canada-U.S. Regional Trade Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 615-623, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. John F. Helliwell, 2001. "Canada: Life beyond the Looking Glass," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 107-124, Winter.
    2. Robert Oxoby, 2009. "Understanding social inclusion, social cohesion, and social capital," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 36(12), pages 1133-1152, October.
    3. Rafael Gomez & Eric Santor, 2001. "Membership has its privileges: the effect of social capital and neighbourhood characteristics on the earnings of microfinance borrowers," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(4), pages 943-966, November.
    4. Aleksynska, Mariya, 2007. "Civic Participation of Immigrants: Culture Transmission and Assimilation," MPRA Paper 4594, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Polimeni, John M. & Iorgulescu Polimeni, Raluca & Trees, W. Scott, 2007. "Extending The Augmented Solow Growth Model To Explain Transitional Economies," Journal for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, vol. 4(1), pages 65-76, March.
    6. Helliwell, John F., 2003. "How's life? Combining individual and national variables to explain subjective well-being," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 331-360, March.
    7. Carlos A. Azzoni & Naercio Menezes-Filho & Tatiana de Menezes & Raúl Silveira-Neto, 2000. "Geography and Income Convergence among Brazilian States," Research Department Publications 3096, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    8. Asimina Christoforou, 2005. "On the Determinants of Social Capital in Greece Compared to Countries of the European Union," Working Papers 2005.68, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    9. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2002. "Who trusts others?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 207-234, August.
    10. Johnson, Nancy & Suarez , Ruth & Lundy, Mark, 2002. "The importance of social capital in Colombian rural agro-enterprises:," CAPRi working papers 26, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    11. Marco Ferroni & Mercedes Mateo Díaz & J. Mark Payne, 2007. "Development under Conditions of Inequality and Distrust: An Exploration of the Role of Social Capital and Social Cohesion in Latin America," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 53818, Inter-American Development Bank.
    12. Azzoni, Carlos & Menezes-Filho, Naercio & Menezes, Tatiane & Silveira-Neto, Raul, 1999. "Geography and regional convergence of income in Brazilian states: 1981-1996," ERSA conference papers ersa99pa196, European Regional Science Association.
    13. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
    14. Johnson, Nancy L. & Suarez, Ruth & Lundy, Mark, 2003. "The Importance Of Social Capital In Colombian Rural Agro-Enterprises," 2003 Annual Meeting, August 16-22, 2003, Durban, South Africa 25917, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    15. Aron, Janine, 2000. "Growth and Institutions: A Review of the Evidence," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 15(1), pages 99-135, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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