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Measuring Social Capital in East Asia and Other World Regions: Index of Social Capital for 72 Countries

Dan Lee, Kap-Young Jeong and Sean Chae

Global Economic Review, 2011, vol. 40, issue 4, 385-407

Abstract: Critics opine that social capital, despite its importance, provides little empirical insight because it is difficult to measure. This paper develops a broad measure of social capital, incorporating four major components: social trust, norms, social networks, and social structure. We constructed an index of social capital for 72 countries by extracting the principal components from 44 variables. Consistent with the social capital literature, the index of social capital is significantly associated with various social and economic indicators, such as income per capita, education, infant mortality, regulatory quality and even happiness. We compare the levels of social capital between East Asia and other world regions. The results suggest that although the level of social capital varies widely across countries, East Asia has markedly less social capital than Western Europe or North America.

Date: 2011
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