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Local Social Capital and Geographical Mobility: Some Empirics and a Conjecture on the Nature of European Unemployment

  • Alexandre Janiak

    (Departamento de Ingenieria Industrial (DII))

  • Quentin David

    (Département de Droit de l'UL)

  • Etienne Wasmer

    (Département d'économie)

European labor markets are characterized by the low geographical mobility of workers. The absence of mobility is a factor behind high unemployment when jobless people prefer to remain in their home region rather than to go prospecting in more dynamic areas. In this paper, we attempt to understand the determinants of mobility by introducing the concept of local social capital. Using data from a European household panel (ECHP), we provide various measures of social capital, which appears to be a strong factor of immobility. It is also a fairly large factor of unemployment when social capital is clearly local, while other types of social capital are found to have a positive effect on employability. We also find evidence of the reciprocal causality, that is, individuals born in another region have accumulated less local social capital. Finally, observing that individuals in the South of Europe appear to accumulate more local social capital, while in Northern Europe they tend to invest in more general types of social capital, we argue that part of the European unemployment puzzle can be better understood thanks to the concept of local social capital.

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Paper provided by Sciences Po in its series Sciences Po publications with number 3669.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
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Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/10058
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  1. Samuel Bentolila & Claudio Michelacci & Javier Suarez, 2010. "Social Contacts and Occupational Choice," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(305), pages 20-45, 01.
  2. David, Quentin & Janiak, Alexandre & Wasmer, Etienne, 2008. "Local Social Capital and Geographical Mobility: A Theory," IZA Discussion Papers 3668, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Cahuc, Pierre & Fontaine, François, 2002. "On the Efficiency of Job Search with Social Networks," CEPR Discussion Papers 3511, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Matt Jackson, 2003. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000032, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Montgomery, James D, 1991. "Social Networks and Labor-Market Outcomes: Toward an Economic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1407-18, December.
  6. Belot, Michèle & Ermisch, John, 2006. "Friendship Ties and Geographical Mobility: Evidence from the BHPS," IZA Discussion Papers 2209, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  9. de Marti, Joan & Zenou, Yves, 2009. "Social Networks," Working Paper Series 816, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  10. Giuseppe Bertola & Andrea Ichino, 1995. "Wage Inequality and Unemployment: United States versus Europe," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1995, Volume 10, pages 13-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Richard Layard & Stephen Nickell, 1998. "Labour Market Institutions and Economic Performance," CEP Discussion Papers dp0407, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  12. Quentin David & Alexandre Janiak & Etienne Wasmer, 2009. "Local social capital and geographical mobility," CREA Discussion Paper Series 09-11, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.
  13. Kamhon Kan, 2006. "Residential Mobility and Social Capital," IEAS Working Paper : academic research 06-A005, Institute of Economics, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
  14. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/8810 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc, 2005. "The Roots of Low European Employment : Family Culture?," Sciences Po publications 1683, Sciences Po.
  16. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173, March.
  17. Luis Ubeda & Antonio Spilimbergo, 2002. "A Model of Multiple Equilibria in Geographic Labor Mobility," IMF Working Papers 02/31, International Monetary Fund.
  18. Calvo-Armengol, Antoni, 2004. "Job contact networks," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 191-206, March.
  19. 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.
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