Civic Engagement and Community Heterogeneity: An Economist's Perspective

24 Pages Posted: 31 May 2002

See all articles by Matthew E. Kahn

Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Dora L. Costa

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: May 10, 2002

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of the mushrooming economics literature on how community attributes influence the level of civic engagement. Since 1997, at least fifteeen empirical papers have investigated the consequences of heterogeneity for social capital. Social capital has been measured using indicators of group participation such as volunteer activity, organizational membership and activity, entertaining and visiting friends and relatives, and voting and indicators of the strength of network ties such as trust. These papers cover different nations, different social capital measures, and even different centuries. But a common theme emerges across these fifteen studies. More homogeneous communities foster greater levels of social capital production. We provide an overview of this literature and then focus on synthesizing our past work on volunteering and membership with new findings on trust and voting.

Keywords: Social Capital, Heterogenous Communities

JEL Classification: H0

Suggested Citation

Kahn, Matthew E. and Costa, Dora L., Civic Engagement and Community Heterogeneity: An Economist's Perspective (May 10, 2002). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=311839 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.311839

Matthew E. Kahn (Contact Author)

University of Southern California ( email )

2250 Alcazar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Dora L. Costa

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 951477
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1477
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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