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Conflicts and social capital and economic development in Latin America


  • Paula Pavarina



Conflicts and social capital and economic development in Latin America Keywords: social capital, economic development, conflict, cooperation. JEL CLASSIFICATION: O17; 043; O57. Abstract This study aims to discuss the economical behavior of Latin America, considering the importance of the attributes directly related to social capital (interpersonal trust, which leads to association and civic commitment, resulting in what Putnam calls 'civic community') pari passu governance, ie the formal attributes related to the behavior of economic agents in the presence of the state, which make up a 'backdrop' for the establishment of social, political and economic relations. Together, these two dimensions can enable to explain the economical behavior of conflict or cooperation in different countries. This is because the rational decision of cooperating or not is related to two factors: (1) the expected behavior of other agents ('I cooperate if and just if I hope the others will cooperate with me') and (2) the existence of standards, patterns or rules that prevent or hinder opportunism (otherwise the cooperative behavior would seem a 'fool’s choice'). The key question when added together the two dimensions is predictability. In other words, understanding the game' and the reluctance in facing the penalties imposed in cases of wrongful conduct. The expected behavior of other agents depends on the trust relationships that are established between them. The more 'general trust' is (replacing the purely interpersonal attributes), it is expected more cooperation. The 'generalized trust' occurs when one recognizes itself in the other or when others are part of 'my group'. Hence the importance of activities that brings together a large and different number of people and groups, named 'bridging' associations, which allow the inter-relationship between 'different' individuals. The more social capital is reflected in the amount of cross-cutting relationships; bigger will be the advantages of economic environment. The lack of confidence or associative participation leads to a 'social isolationism' that is characteristic of places and countries where economic or social fragmentation can be find. This situation can lead to positive results that are appropriated by some groups in private but not by all the collectivity. Conflict occurs when different interests collide: either because they are isolated benefits or privately appropriated ones, gathered in the expense of others groups; or because the benefits are not extended to everybody because of the context of institutional weakness. Using quantitative analysis this paper analyses correlations between social capital and growth in Latin America as well as between GDP per capita and institutional conditions (political and civil liberties, property rights, stability of political power, judicial independence and the rule of law).

Suggested Citation

  • Paula Pavarina, 2012. "Conflicts and social capital and economic development in Latin America," ERSA conference papers ersa12p591, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa12p591

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sriya Iyer & Michael Kitson & Bernard Toh, 2005. "Social capital, economic growth and regional development," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(8), pages 1015-1040.
    2. World Bank, 2009. "World Development Indicators 2009," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 4367.
    3. Woolcock, Michael & Narayan, Deepa, 2000. "Social Capital: Implications for Development Theory, Research, and Policy," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 15(2), pages 225-249, August.
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    JEL classification:

    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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