Social Capital and Economic Development: A Neighborhood Perspective


  • Matthew J. Hanka University of Southern Indiana
  • Trent Aaron Engbers University of Southern Indiana



Social Capital, Neighborhood, Economic Development


Sean Safford’s 2009 book Why the Garden Club Couldn’t Save Youngstown introduces a revolutionary idea that much of a community’s economic resilience is tied to the social capital that exists within it. Recent research suggests that social capital not only benefits those who develop it, but it can serve as a source of economic development in the communities in which it arises. Past quantitative research on the economic benefit of social capital has only examined the city or higher levels of aggregation. This study measures social capital in three diverse socioeconomic neighborhoods to better understand how social capital can serve as a tool for economic development. An ordered probit regression model was developed to examine how individual and neighborhood levels of social capital benefit households within these communities. Moreover, this study addresses how differences in social capital across neighborhoods are explained by both individual and neighborhood characteristics.






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