Microfoundations of Social Capital
University of St. Gallen
University of Vienna; University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics
October 20, 2009
Univ. of Copenhagen Dept. of Economics Discussion Paper No. 09-24
We show that the standard trust question routinely used in social capital research is importantly related to cooperation behavior and we provide a microfoundation for this relation. We run a large-scale public goods experiment over the internet in Denmark and find that the trust question is a proxy for cooperation preferences rather than beliefs about others’ cooperation. To disentangle the preference and belief channels, we run a (standard) public goods game in which beliefs matter for cooperation choices and one (using the strategy method) in which they do not matter. We show that the “fairness question”, a recently proposed alternative to the “trust question”, is also related to cooperation behavior but operates through beliefs rather than preferences.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: social capital, trust, fairness, public goods, cooperation, experiment
JEL Classification: H41, C91, C72working papers series
Date posted: October 22, 2009 ; Last revised: October 14, 2010
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