Measuring Social Capital: Culture as an Explanation of Italy's Economic Dualism
The paper presents a quantitative test of the oft-repeated view that Italy's backward and poor South suffered from low "social capital", a tendency to defect from co-operative engagements. The problem with such assertions is that they run the risk of taking as evidence in favour of the hypothesis the very observations that need to be explained. The analysis carried out in this work tries to break out of this impasse by analyzing the conditions under which it was ex ante welfare-improving for farmers in early 20th century Italy to join an unlimited liability rural co-operative bank which would give them access to cheaper credit but also exposed them to the risk of their neighbours' defection.
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NBER Working Papers
7216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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