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Costa, D., Kahn, M. (2003). Understanding the American Decline in Social Capital, 1952-1998. Kyklos 56 (1), 17-46.

We evaluate U.S. trends in social capital since 1952 and assess explanations for the observed declines. We examine both social capital centered in the community and in the home and argue that the decline in social capital has been over-stated. Declines in social capital centered in the home have been more pronounced among women relative to men, contemporaneous with the rise in women’s labor force participation rates. Rising community heterogeneity (particularly income inequality) explains the fall in social capital produced outside the home.


Costa, Dora

Dora Costa is Professor of Economics at the Department of Economics of the University of California Los Angeles.

Kahn, Matthew

Matthew E. Kahn is a Professor at the UCLA Institute of the Environment, the Department of Economics, and the Department of Public Policy. He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Before joining the UCLA faculty in January 2007, he taught at Columbia and the...

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