Social Capital, Household Welfare, and Poverty in Indonesia

79 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

Date Written: July 1999


It pays for poor households to participate actively in local associations. At low incomes, the returns to social capital are higher than returns to human capital. At higher incomes, the reverse is true.

Grootaert empirically estimates how social capital affects household welfare and poverty in Indonesia. His focus: household memberships in local associations, an aspect of social capital especially relevant to daily household decisions that affect welfare and consumption.

The data suggest that households with higher social capital spend more per capita. They also have more assets, more savings, and better access to credit.

To estimate how social capital contributes to household welfare, Grootaert uses a reduced-form model of household welfare, which controls for relevant household and location characteristics. He measures social capital along six dimensions: density of memberships, internal heterogeneity of associations (by age, gender, education, religion, and so on), meeting attendance, active participation in decision-making, payment of dues, and community orientation.

The strongest effects come from:

- Number of memberships. Each additional membership (an average 20 percent increase) raises per capita household spending 1.5 percent. - Internal heterogeneity. An increase of 20 percent in the heterogeneity index correlates with 3.3 percent more spending. - Active participation in decision-making. An increase of 20 percent in the participation index correlates with 3.2 percent more spending.

Grootaert also estimates structural equations and uses instrumental variable estimation and historical data to address the possible endogeneity of the social capital variable and to demonstrate that the causality runs from social capital to household welfare.

This paper - a product of the Social Development Department - is part of a larger effort in the department to assess empirically the role of local institutions in the delivery of services and poverty alleviation.

Suggested Citation

Grootaert, Christian, Social Capital, Household Welfare, and Poverty in Indonesia (July 1999). Available at SSRN:

Christian Grootaert (Contact Author)

World Bank - Social Development ( email )

Washington, DC 20433
United States

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