What Do Lost Wallets Tell Us About Survey Measures of Social Capital?
22 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2020
Date Written: 2020
We assess the predictive power of survey measures of social capital with a new behavioural 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: C930, C830, Z100, O100
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation