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Knack, S., Keefer, P. (1997). Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation. Quarterly Journal of Economics 112 (4): 1251-1288

This paper presents evidence that “social capital” matters for measurable economic performance, using indicators of trust and civic norms from the World Values Surveys for a sample of 29 market economies. Memberships in formal groups—Putnam's measure of social capital—is not associated with trust or with improved economic performance. We find trust and civic norms are stronger in nations with higher and more equal incomes, with institutions that restrain predatory actions of chief executives, and with better-educated and ethnically homogeneous populations.


Knack, Stephen

Stephen Knack is a Lead Economist in the World Bank's  Research Department and Public Sector Governance Department. His recent research addresses the impact of aid on policy reform and on public sector capacity and accountability.  He is a specialist on actionable governance...

Keefer, Philip

Philip Keefer is Research Director at the World Bank Development Research Group Areas of Interest: Political incentives and economic development Impact of insecure property rights on economic growth Governance and economics Education: Ph.D. (Economics) 1991, Washington...

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