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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. Nickell, Stephen & Layard, Richard, 1999. "Labor market institutions and economic performance," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 46, pages 3029-3084 Elsevier.
  2. Quentin David & Alexandre Janiak & Etienne Wasmer, 2008. "Local social capital and geographical mobility. A theory," Documentos de Trabajo 248, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  3. 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.
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  10. Matt Jackson, 2003. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000032, UCLA Department of Economics.
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  12. David, Quentin & Janiak, Alexandre & Wasmer, Etienne, 2010. "Local social capital and geographical mobility," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 191-204, September.
  13. Luis Ubeda & Antonio Spilimbergo, 2002. "A Model of Multiple Equilibria in Geographic Labor Mobility," IMF Working Papers 02/31, International Monetary Fund.
  14. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 1991. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198284345.
  15. Kamhon Kan, 2006. "Residential Mobility and Social Capital," IEAS Working Paper : academic research 06-A005, Institute of Economics, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
  16. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/8810 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. 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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  19. 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.
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