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Social Capability and Economic Development, by Jonathan Temple and Paul Johnson (Nov. 1996)

The conventional wisdom is that postwar economic growth has been unpredictable. In the 1960s few observers accurately forecast which countries would grow quickly. In this paper we show that indexes of social development constructed in the early 1960s have considerable predictive power. These results indicate the importance of "social capability" for economic growth. We emphasize that social arrangements matter for reasons beyond those discussed in recent work on trust and social capital. However,we are also able to show that one of the indexes may be a useful proxy for social capital in developing countries.

Published: Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1998, 113(3):965-90.