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What do cross-country surveys tell us about social capital?

Author

Listed:
  • David Tannenbaum
  • Alain Cohn
  • Christian Lukas Zünd
  • Michel André Maréchal

Abstract

We validate survey measures of social capital with a new behavioral data set that examines whether citizens report a lost wallet to its owner. Using data from more than 17,000 lost wallets across 40 countries, we find that survey measures of social capital — especially questions concerning generalized trust or generalized morality — are strongly and significantly correlated with country-level differences in wallet reporting rates. A second finding is that lost wallet reporting rates predict unique variation in the outputs of social capital, such as economic development and government effectiveness, not captured by existing measures.

Suggested Citation

  • David Tannenbaum & Alain Cohn & Christian Lukas Zünd & Michel André Maréchal, 2020. "What do cross-country surveys tell us about social capital?," ECON - Working Papers 352, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Nov 2020.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:352
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social capital; trust; honesty; field experiment; surveys;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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