Faculty Publications

Title

Democracy, economic wealth and social capital: Sorting out the causal connections

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Space and Polity

Volume

6

Issue

3

First Page

307

Last Page

325

Abstract

There is widespread agreement that democracy, economic wealth and culture are causally linked, but there is sharp disagreement about the degree to which each of the factors influences the others. We contend that a society's culture, in the form of social capital, remains largely unchanged for long periods of time and that it leaves an indelible mark on the society's politics and economics. Using the 1990 World Values Surveys (WVS), we develop national-level social capital scores for the populations of 11 countries. We also use the cumulative General Social Surveys (GSS) to develop social capital scores for Americans who claim to have ancestral ties to these 11 nations. The WVS and GSS scores are strongly correlated, suggesting that social capital is durable and portable. Moreover, the GSS scores, which serve, in effect, as instrumental measures of 19th-century social capital, prove to be better predictors of contemporary politics and economics in the 11 WVS nations than commonly used 19th-century measures of politics and economics.

Original Publication Date

12-1-2002

DOI of published version

10.1080/1356257022000031995

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