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Measuring Social Capital in Italy. An Exploratory Analysis

  • Fabio Sabatini

    (University of Rome La Sapienza)

The aim of this paper is to trace a map of Italian local social capital endowments. It focuses on the “structural” dimension 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 capital’s 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.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Development and Comp Systems with number 0504003.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: 11 Apr 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0504003
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 45. Third Sector and Civil Economy Working Paper Series, No. 12 (April 2005), University of Bologna, Faculty of Economics.
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  1. Jonathan Temple, 2001. "Growth effects of education and social capital in the OECD countries," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2001(2), pages 57-101.
  2. James J. Heckman, 2000. "Causal Parameters And Policy Analysis In Economics: A Twentieth Century Retrospective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(1), pages 45-97, February.
  3. Zak, Paul J & Knack, Stephen, 2001. "Trust and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 295-321, April.
  4. Martin Raiser & Christian Haerpfer & Thomas Nowotny & Claire Wallace, 2001. "Social capital in transition: a first look at the evidence," Working Papers 61, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Office of the Chief Economist.
  5. Cole, Harold L & Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1992. "Social Norms, Savings Behavior, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1092-1125, December.
  6. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
  7. Durlauf,S.N., 1999. "The case "against" social capital," Working papers 29, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  8. 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.
  9. Fabio Sabatini, 2004. "Il concetto di capitale sociale. Una rassegna della letteratura economica, sociologica e politologica," Development and Comp Systems 0411014, EconWPA.
  10. Steven N. Durlauf, 2002. "On the Empirics of Social Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 459-479, November.
  11. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2000. "The Role of Social Capital in Financial Development," CRSP working papers 511, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  12. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2002. "Social Capital and Community Governance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 419-436, November.
  13. Jonathan Temple & Paul A. Johnson, 1998. "Social Capability And Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 965-990, August.
  14. Routledge, Bryan R. & von Amsberg, Joachim, 2003. "Social capital and growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 167-193, January.
  15. Torsvik, G., 2000. "Social Capital and Economic Development," Norway; Department of Economics, University of Bergen 216, Department of Economics, University of Bergen.
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