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Primary-school class composition and the development of social capital

Donata Favaro (), Dario Sciulli and Francesco Bartolucci

Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, 2020, vol. 72, issue C

Abstract: We study the development of social capital through adult civic engagement, in relation to social capital exposure having occurred during childhood based on experiences outside the family at primary school. We assume that the types of classmates in attendance at a child's school would have influenced her/his social capital. To identify the types of classmates, we take advantage of the heterogeneity in the ability levels of British primary-school classes during the 1960s. At that time, some schools were practicing a method of streaming, whereas others were not. Using British National Child Development data, we construct a single score of civic engagement and evaluate the effect on adult civic engagement of attending homogeneous-ability classes versus nonhomogeneous-ability classes and being in high-, average- or low-ability classes when enrolled in streamed schools. Our results show that children who were grouped in homogeneous-ability classes developed a lower interest in civic engagement than their peers who attended mixed-ability classes (nonstreamed schools). Moreover, among children who attended streamed schools, a lower attitude toward civic engagement was observed among low-ability students. Thus, streaming appears to be detrimental to social capital development, especially for low-ability individuals.

Keywords: Social capital; Education; Skills (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A13 C31 I26 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.seps.2020.100874

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