IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

How Immigration Reduced Social Capital in the US: 2005-2011

  • Freire, Tiago
  • Li, Xiaoye

Putnam (1995)'s seminal work was one of the first to describe the decline of social capital in the US after the 1960s, a period that saw a large increase in the flow of immigrants into the US. Using the Volunteer Supplement of the September Sample of the Current Population Survey (CPS) between 2004 and 2011, we examine the relationship between immigration and social capital in the US, measured by membership of organizations, volunteering and hours volunteered. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper to address this question. Once we correct for immigrants' self-selection to different destinations using a supply-push instrumental variable, we find that a one standard deviation increase in the number of immigrants decreases volunteering by 0.08 to 0.12 standard deviations, or that the 8.7 million legal immigrants who entered the US between 2005 and 2011 reduced the probability Americans volunteered between 27.8% and 35.7%. From our robustness checks we argue that the reduction in volunteering by natives is driven by the the fact that new immigrants have a lower social capital, reducing the benefits of volunteering. Our results have important implications for public policy. We show that migrants' social capital has an impact on receiving communities. Therefore immigrants' social capital (such as having relatives living at the receiving community) should be taken into consideration. Future research should focus on what is the optimal weight to give to the presence of family members versus, for instance, educational level of the immigrants.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: original version
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 44540.

in new window

Date of creation: 23 Feb 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:44540
Contact details of provider: Postal: Schackstr. 4, D-80539 Munich, Germany
Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-2219
Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Bellows, John & Miguel, Edward, 2009. "War and local collective action in Sierra Leone," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(11-12), pages 1144-1157, December.
  2. Milo Bianchi & Paolo Buonanno & Paolo Pinotti, 2012. "Do Immigrants Cause Crime?," Working Papers halshs-00670036, HAL.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 1999. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," NBER Working Papers 7155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 1999. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," Working Papers 9902, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  5. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 9755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. DiPasquale, Denise & Glaeser, Edward L., 1999. "Incentives and Social Capital: Are Homeowners Better Citizens?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 354-384, March.
  7. repec:oup:qjecon:v:112:y:1997:i:4:p:1251-88 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2001. "Understanding the Decline in Social Capital, 1952-1998," NBER Working Papers 8295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Steven N. Durlauf, 2002. "On the Empirics of Social Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 459-479, November.
  11. Durlauf,S.N., 2000. "Bowling alone : a review essay," Working papers 29, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  12. repec:oup:qjecon:v:118:y:2003:i:4:p:1335-1374 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Benjamin A. Olken, 2006. "Do Television and Radio Destroy Social Capital? Evidence from Indonesian Villages," NBER Working Papers 12561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. repec:oup:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:811-846 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Scholarly Articles 4551796, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:118:y:2003:i:4:p:1335-1374 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Friedman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1997. "How Much Do Immigration and Trade Affect Labor Market Outcomes?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 1-90.
  18. Katharine G. Abraham & Sara E. Helms & Stanley Presser, 2008. "How Social Processes Distort Measurement: The Impact of Survey Nonresponse on Estimates of Volunteer Work," NBER Working Papers 14076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Wozniak, Abigail & Murray, Thomas J., 2012. "Timing is everything: Short-run population impacts of immigration in US cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 60-78.
  20. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:847-904 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. repec:oup:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:847-904 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Edward L. Glaeser & David Laibson & Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "An Economic Approach to Social Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 437-458, November.
  23. repec:oup:qjecon:v:118:y:2003:i:2:p:549-599 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. Peri, Giovanni, 2011. "Rethinking the area approach: Immigrants and the labor market in California," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-14, May.
  25. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:811-846 is not listed on IDEAS
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:44540. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ekkehart Schlicht)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.