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Social Capital
Research Narrative

In this area I have three, inter-related, concerns. First, how does the pattern of social relationships (and the associated norms) affect development outcomes. Second, how is project success related to both the larger environment and specific project design issues. Third, how are social capital and local governance related?

  1. Social Capital

  2. Social Capital and Local Governance

  3. Participation and Project Performance

    • Other Sites

  1. Social Capital:
  • Scenes from a Marriage: World Bank Economists and Social Capital. This is a chapter from a forthcoming book edited by Tony Bebbington, Michael Woolcock, and Scott Guggenheim, and E. Ostrom about the concept of social capital. Together with Jeffrey Hammer we look at it from the economist's view.

  • Cents and Sociability: Household Income and Social Capital in Rural Tanzania. (with Deepa Narayan). Economic Development and Cultural Change, 1999, vol. 47 (4). (download working paper version). Empirical work that identifies the social impact of associational life. Estimates quite large impacts of a measure of associational life on village consumption expenditures (proxy for income) as well as other dimensions of village like. The work taking advantage of the fact that a "social capital" survey took place in the same villages that a year earlier had had a multi-module living standards survey but with different households. So the "social" effect was estimated by examining the multivariate regressions of outcomes for one set of households on the measured village associational life that was measured using a completely different set of households.

  1. Local Governance:




  1. Project Design/Participation:

There are two papers: micro--which looks at the relation between project performance and beneficiary participation for 121 water projects, and a macro--that looks at the relationship between the performance of World Bank financed projects and country characteristics--particularly civil liberties.

  • Does Participation Improve Performance?: Establishing Causality with Subjective Data. (with Jonathan Isham, Deepa Narayan) World Bank Economic Review 9(2): 175-200 (1995). Uses data from121 water projects that had information about project characteristics coded ex post from project documents. Uses the feature that the project "data" was created by two independent coders to address questions of "halo effects" and the validity of the subjective rankings. Shows the empirical connections at each stage: from a design that encourages participation to more participation to improved project performance.

  • Civil Liberties, Democracy, and the Performance of Government Projects. (with Jon Isham and Daniel Kaufmann). World Bank Economic Review, v 11 (2). Uses the large sample of projects financed by the World Bank to show that the economic rate of return (and success rate) on government projects is higher in countries with better civil liberties (controlling for country income, education, etc.).

  • The determinants of the magnitude and effectiveness of participation: Evidence from rural water projects. This paper, never really published, used the same data on 121 water projects to show that NGO projects were more successful only insofar as they promoted participation. This tries to examine the determinants of whether a project was or was not "participatory" as a function of sponsor of the project, etc.

  • This was a presentation and is my first attempt at a typology for participation--"Participation: What, Who, Why and When".

Other Sites:

    This is not intended as an overview of a large and growing literature, but just my particular view. In this area perhaps the best place to start is with my co-authors and others I know.

  • Deepa Narayan has done interesting work all over the globe on participation, social capital, and most recently the project on "Voices of the Poor".

  • Michael Woolcock has written extensively on social capital (and his forthcoming book on social capital and development will be the state of the art).

  • Jon Isham is doing very interesting work on "co-production" and its relation to social capital and proejct design.

  • The World Bank Social Capital web site is also a good source.

  • The Local Level Institutions Study produced research in several countries on social capital issues, including a number of papers by Christian Grootaert.

  • Alberto Alesina does interesting work on fractionalization (with Eliana Ferrara, who does interesting work of her own). Edward Glaeser examines mostly the private dimensions of social capital, that is how households own social connections affect outcomes.



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