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Measuring Social Capital in Italy: An Exploratory Analysis


  • Sabatini, Fabio

    () (Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit)


The aim of this paper is to trace a map of Italian local social capital endowments. It focuses on the structuraldimension of the concept, as identified with social networks. The analysis is based on a dataset collected by the author including about two hundred indicators of five main social capital dimensions: strong family ties, weak informal ties, voluntary organizations, civic awareness, and political participation. 51 key variables are selected for performing principal component analyses both on each of the five groups and on the entire dataset, in order to build latent indicators for every single social capitals dimension and for the concept as a whole. Finally, a multiple factor analysis is run on the entire dataset, in search of a single synthetic measure of social capital. A clear distinction emerges between bonding social capital, shaped by strong family ties, and bridging and linking social capital, shaped by weak ties among friends, neighboors and members in voluntary organizations. Areas characterized by high levels of bonding social capital can suffer from a lack of bridging and linking ties. The study provides a valuable synthetic indicator capturing the particular configuration of social capital which the literature generally associates with positive economic outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Sabatini, Fabio, 2005. "Measuring Social Capital in Italy: An Exploratory Analysis," AICCON Working Papers 12-2005, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:aiccon:2005_012

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-1093, Nov.-Dec..
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    3. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2002. "Social Capital and Community Governance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 419-436, November.
    4. Routledge, Bryan R. & von Amsberg, Joachim, 2003. "Social capital and growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 167-193, January.
    5. Fabio Sabatini, 2005. "Resources for the Study of Social Capital," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(2), pages 198-198, April.
    6. 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.
    7. Jonathan Temple & Paul A. Johnson, 1998. "Social Capability and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 965-990.
    8. Gaute Torsvik, 2000. "Social Capital And Economic Development," Rationality and Society, , vol. 12(4), pages 451-476, November.
    9. Foley, Michael W. & Edwards, Bob, 1999. "Is It Time to Disinvest in Social Capital?," Journal of Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(02), pages 141-173, May.
    10. George W. Evans & L Reichlin, 1992. "Information," CEP Discussion Papers dp0111, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    11. James J. Heckman, 2000. "Causal Parameters and Policy Analysis in Economics: A Twentieth Century Retrospective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(1), pages 45-97.
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    Cited by:

    1. Emanuele Felice, 2011. "The determinants of Italy's regional imbalances over the long run: exploring the contributions of human and social capital," Economics Series Working Papers Number 88, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    2. Fabio Sabatini, 2005. "Social Capital, Public Spending and the Quality of Economic Development," Others 0506014, EconWPA.

    More about this item


    Social capital; Social networks; Economic development; Principal component analysis; Multiple factor analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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