Social capital accumulation and the evolution of social participation

We study the co-evolution of social participation and social capital accumulation, taking the view that the former contributes to the latter, and both contribute to socially enjoyed leisure. We show that a process of substitution of private for social activities (observable in some advanced, affluent economies), might be self-reinforcing and lead to a Pareto-dominated steady state.We find some scope for policy intervention, but we also acknowledge its difficulty.

Article by Pier Luigi Sacco, Angelo Antoci, Paolo Vanin
Published in The Journal of Socio-Economics 36 (2007) 128–143

From the Conclusions (excerpt)
This paper develops a dynamic model of the co-evolution of social participation and social capital accumulation, to study the mechanism through which individuals in a growing economy may be led to substitute private for social activities, thus inducing a social impoverishment which reinforces the same mechanism.
(…) We discuss some forms of policy intervention, aimed at solving a coordination failure problem and at changing the structural parameters of the model. We acknowledge the difficulty of such interventions, but at the same time we find some scope for them.

There are several ways in which the hypotheses we make may be relaxed. First, allowing for population heterogeneity would make social participation more difficult and thus would reinforce our results. Second, while it is not clear that social participation increases productivity in the private sector, other forms of social capital (namely generalized trust and trustworthiness) certainly do; at the same time, social interaction within the market may be itself a source of social capital and of relational goods (…).

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