The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Social Capital

  • Partha Dasgupta
Reference work entry


Social capital is an aggregate of interpersonal networks. Belonging to a network helps a person to coordinate his strategies with others. Where the state or the market is dysfunctional, communities enable people to survive, even if they do not enable them to live well. But communities often involve hierarchical social structures; and the theory of repeated games cautions us that communitarian relationships can involve allocations where some of the parties are worse off than they would have been if they had not been locked into the relationships. Even if no overt coercion is visible, such relationships could be exploitative.


Caste system Civil society Common property resources Communitarian institutions Contract enforcement Cooperation Exploitation Human capital Interpersonal networks Prisoner’s Dilemma Public goods Reciprocity Repeated games Reputation Rotating savings and credit associations Social capital Social norms Total factor productivity Trust 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Partha Dasgupta
    • 1
  1. 1.