What Do Cross-country Surveys Tell Us About Social Capital?

University of Zurich, Deparment of Economics, Working Paper No. 352, 2020, Revised version

19 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2020 Last revised: 3 Dec 2020

See all articles by David Tannenbaum

David Tannenbaum

University of Utah - Department of Management

Alain Cohn

University of Michigan

Christian Zünd

University of Zurich

Michel André Maréchal

University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2020

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.

Keywords: Social capital, trust, honesty, field experiment, surveys

JEL Classification: C93, C83, Z10, O10

Suggested Citation

Tannenbaum, David and Cohn, Alain and Zünd, Christian and Maréchal, Michel André, What Do Cross-country Surveys Tell Us About Social Capital? (November 2020). University of Zurich, Deparment of Economics, Working Paper No. 352, 2020, Revised version, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3639328 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3639328

David Tannenbaum (Contact Author)

University of Utah - Department of Management ( email )

Salt Lake City, UT 84112
United States

Alain Cohn

University of Michigan ( email )

105 S State St
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Christian Zünd

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006
Switzerland

Michel André Maréchal

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

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