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Regular version of the site

Culture, Social Capital and Development Through History

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Elective course
1 year, 3, 4 module


Course Syllabus


Social capital and culture: what do they add to economic growth and development? What is the role of social capital in explaining labor market regulation, quality of government, and preferences for redistribution? Does the language we speak matter for healthy life and savings? What do genes and hormones say about our norms of behavior? This is just the beginning of a list of questions we are going to discuss in this course, which is focused on cutting edge empirical research on social capital and culture with special attention to their deep historical and geographical roots. We will concentrate on the main findings in the literature and their limitations, as well as on data and methods. Additionally, we will use Internet applications and video materials, allowing a deeper understanding of the role of social capital and culture in our everyday life. The course concludes with a discussion of social capital and cultural dynamics in developing and transition economies. Policy recommendations will also follow.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Make students familiar with the concepts of social capital and culture and their role for development
  • Give students the tools to analyze social capital and culture for different countries and regions
  • Give students understanding of factors of cultural persistence and change
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • способность обучаться, искать и критически анализировать новую информацию и эмпирические данные
  • способность вести научное исследование
  • способность применять научные знания для анализа и решения повседневных задач
  • способность проводить собственное исследование в области социального капитала и культуры
  • способность анализировать информацию и данные по социальному капиталу и культуре
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Topic 1. Introduction to the cultural explanation of economic development
    Definitions of social capital and culture. Generalized trust and particularized trust. Generalized and limited morality. Bonding and bridging social capital. Measurement: surveys, experiments, statistics. Open data sources. General explanation for the role of social capital and culture for development.
  • Topic 2. Social capital, culture and development: Macro evidence
    Cross-country evidence for the role of social capital and culture for economic development, political institutions, education, health, happiness, etc. Social capital and good governance. Regulation and distrust.
  • Topic 3. From Culture to Development: Institutions
    Mechanisms for the role of social capital and culture: institutions. Institutions of property rights, labor market institutions, redistributive government institutions, quality of bureaucracy, banks and financial institutions.
  • Topic 4. From Culture to Development: Individual behavior
    Mechanisms for the role of social capital and culture: individual behavior. Role of trust, pro-social norms, family ties, religion. New directions of research: role of grammatical language structures. Future time reference, pronoun drop, gender differentiated personal pronouns.
  • Topic 5. Deep roots: History, Geography, and Genes
    Examples for the persistent role of history and geography for the current trust and norms: history of freedom and violence, exposure to particular type of state (welfare state, communist regime), historical structure of the society, variability of the climate, prevalence of pathogens. Factors that change persistence. Channels of persistence: socialization and biology (genes and hormones).
  • Topic 6. Cultural persistence and change. Role of education, ownership, and migration. Cultural heterogeneity.
    Other factors of persistence: socio-demographics, education, ownership. Role of migrations. Cultural heterogeneity: diversity vs. segregation.
  • Topic 7. Social capital and culture in developing countries
    Dynamics of social capital and culture. Patterns of developing and transition countries. Explaining dynamics: modernization hypothesis. Traps of development.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Essay
  • non-blocking Discussion of Papers
  • non-blocking Final exam
    Take-home exam. Students should connect through zoom in the beginning of the exam to listen to instructions and receive exam. They have 2 hours to complete the exam. It's prohibited to use any materials or help of others. Students should send their exams via email within 10 minutes after the exam time is over.
  • non-blocking Essay
  • non-blocking Discussion of Papers
  • non-blocking Final exam
    Take-home exam. Students should connect through zoom in the beginning of the exam to listen to instructions and receive exam. They have 2 hours to complete the exam. It's prohibited to use any materials or help of others. Students should send their exams via email within 10 minutes after the exam time is over.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (4 module)
    0.3 * Discussion of Papers + 0.3 * Essay + 0.4 * Final exam


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Alberto Alesina, & Paola Giuliano. (2011). Family Ties And Political Participation. Journal of the European Economic Association, (5), 817. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1542-4774.2011.01024.x
  • Alberto Alesina, & Paola Giuliano. (2015). Culture and Institutions. Journal of Economic Literature, (4), 898. https://doi.org/10.1257/jel.53.4.898
  • Alberto Alesina, Yann Algan, Pierre Cahuc, & Paola Giuliano. (2015). Family Values And The Regulation Of Labor. Journal of the European Economic Association, (4), 599. https://doi.org/10.1111/jeea.12121
  • Alesina, A., & Fuchs-Schündeln, N. (2007). Good-Bye Lenin (or Not?): The Effect of Communism on People’s Preferences. American Economic Review, 97(4), 1507–1528. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.97.4.1507
  • Alessandra Fogli, & Raquel Fernandez. (2009). Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility. American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, (1), 146. https://doi.org/10.1257/mac.1.1.146
  • Algan, Y., & Cahuc, P. (2014). Trust, Growth, and Well-Being: New Evidence and Policy Implications. Handbook of Economic Growth, 49. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.h.eee.grochp.2.49
  • Algan, Y., Cahuc, P., & Shleifer, A. (2011). Teaching Practices and Social Capital. CEPR Discussion Papers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.cpr.ceprdp.8625
  • Barro, R. J., & McCleary, R. M. (2003). Religion and Economic Growth across Countries. American Sociological Review, 68(5), 760–781. https://doi.org/10.2307/1519761
  • Besley, T., & Reynal-Querol, M. (2014). The Legacy of Historical Conflict: Evidence from Africa. American Political Science Review, (02), 319. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.cup.apsrev.v108y2014i02p319.336.00
  • Bloom, N., Sadun, R., & Van Reenen, J. (2012). The Organization of Firms Across Countries*. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 127(4), 1663–1705. https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qje029
  • Brosig-Koch, J., Helbach, C., Ockenfels, A., & Weimann, J. (2011). Still different after all these years: Solidarity behavior in East and West Germany. Journal of Public Economics, (11), 1373. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.pubeco.v95y2011i11p1373.1376
  • Cghion, P., Algan, Y., Cahuc, P., & Shleifer, A. (2010). Regulation and Distrust. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 125(3), 1015–1049. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=bsu&AN=53550927
  • Christian Bjørnskov, & Gert Svendsen. (2013). Does social trust determine the size of the welfare state? Evidence using historical identification. Public Choice, (1), 269. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-012-9944-x
  • DiPasquale, D., & Glaeser, E. L. (1999). Incentives and Social Capital: Are Homeowners Better Citizens? Journal of Urban Economics, (2), 354. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.juecon.v45y1999i2p354.384
  • Francesco Giavazzi, Ivan Petkov, & Fabio Schiantarelli. (2014). Culture: Persistence and Evolution. NBER Working Papers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.nbr.nberwo.20174
  • Glaeser, E. L., Laibson, D. I., Scheinkman, J. A., & Soutter, C. L. (2000). Measuring Trust. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115(3), 811–846. https://doi.org/10.1162/003355300554926
  • Guido Tabellini. (2008). Presidential Address Institutions and Culture. Journal of the European Economic Association, (2–3), 255. https://doi.org/10.1111/(ISSN)1542-4774/issues
  • Irena Grosfeld, Alexander Rodnyansky, & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya. (2013). Persistent Antimarket Culture: A Legacy of the Pale of Settlement after the Holocaust. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, (3), 189. https://doi.org/10.1257/pol.5.3.189
  • John F. Helliwell, & Shun Wang. (2011). Trust and Wellbeing. International Journal of Wellbeing, (1). https://doi.org/10.5502/ijw.v1i1.9
  • Knack, S., & Keefer, P. (1997). Does social capital have an economic payoff? A cross-country investigation. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112(4), 1251. https://doi.org/10.1162/003355300555475
  • Kosfeld, M., Heinrichs, M., Zak, P. J., Fischbacher, U., & Fehr, E. (2005). Oxytocin increases trust in humans. Nature, 435(7042), 673–676. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature03701
  • Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza, & Luigi Zingales. (2006). Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes? Journal of Economic Perspectives, (2), 23. https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.20.2.23
  • M. Keith Chen. (2013). The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets. American Economic Review, (2), 690. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.103.2.690
  • Nathan Nunn, & Leonard Wantchekon. (2011). The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa. American Economic Review, (7), 3221. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.101.7.3221
  • Nathan Nunn. (2009). The Importance of History for Economic Development. Annual Review of Economics, (1), 65. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.economics.050708.143336
  • Paola Giuliano, & Antonio Spilimbergo. (2014). Growing up in a Recession. Review of Economic Studies, (2), 787. https://doi.org/10.1093/restud/rdt040
  • Paola Giuliano, & Nathan Nunn. (2017). Understanding Cultural Persistence and Change. NBER Working Papers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.nbr.nberwo.23617
  • Paola Giuliano. (2007). Living Arrangements in Western Europe: Does Cultural Origin Matter? Journal of the European Economic Association, (5), 927. https://doi.org/10.1111/(ISSN)1542-4774/issues
  • Pauline Grosjean. (2014). A History Of Violence: The Culture Of Honor And Homicide In The Us South. Journal of the European Economic Association, (5), 1285. https://doi.org/10.1111/jeea.12096
  • Pierre Cahuc, & Yann Algan. (2009). Civic Virtue and Labor Market Institutions. American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, (1), 111. https://doi.org/10.1257/mac.1.1.111
  • Rachel M. McCleary, & Robert J. Barro. (2006). Religion and Economy. Journal of Economic Perspectives, (2), 49. https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.20.2.49
  • Raquel Fernández. (2010). Does Culture Matter? NBER Working Papers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.nbr.nberwo.16277
  • Raymond Fisman, & Edward Miguel. (2007). Corruption, Norms, and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets. Journal of Political Economy, (6), 1020. https://doi.org/10.1086/527495
  • Scheve, K., & Stasavage, D. (2006). Religion and Preferences for Social Insurance. Quarterly Journal of Political Science, (3), 255. https://doi.org/10.1561/100.00005052
  • Timur Kuran. (2004). Why the Middle East is Economically Underdeveloped: Historical Mechanisms of Institutional Stagnation. Journal of Economic Perspectives, (3), 71. https://doi.org/10.1257/0895330042162421
  • Yann Algan, & Pierre Cahuc. (2010). Inherited Trust and Growth. American Economic Review, (5), 2060. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.100.5.2060
  • Yann Algan, Pierre Cahuc, & Andrei Shleifer. (2013). Teaching Practices and Social Capital. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, (3), 189. https://doi.org/10.1257/app.5.3.189
  • Yann Algan, Pierre Cahuc, & Marc Sangnier. (2016). Trust and the Welfare State: the Twin Peaks Curve. Post-Print. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.hal.journl.hal.01447855

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Acemoglu, D., Hassan, T. A., & Robinson, J. A. (2011). Social Structure and Development: A Legacy of the Holocaust in Russia*. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126(2), 895–946. https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjr018
  • Alesina, A., & La Ferrara, E. (2002). Who trusts others? Journal of Public Economics, (2), 207. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.pubeco.v85y2002i2p207.234
  • Alesina, A., & La Ferrara, E. (2005). Ethnic Diversity Economic Performance. Journal of Economic Literature, 43(3), 762–800. https://doi.org/10.1257/002205105774431243
  • Alesina, A., Giuliano, P., & Nunn, N. (2013). On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough*. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 128(2), 469–530. https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjt005
  • Alexander Libman, & Anastassia V. Obydenkova. (2015). CPSU Legacies and Regional Democracy in Contemporary Russia. Political Studies, 173. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9248.12133
  • Andreas Bergh, & Christian Bjørnskov. (2011). Historical Trust Levels Predict the Current Size of the Welfare State. Kyklos, (1), 1. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6435.2010.00492.x
  • Arruñada, B. (2010). Protestants and Catholics: Similar Work Ethic, Different Social Ethic. Economic Journal, 120(547), 890–918. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0297.2009.02325.x
  • Avner Greif, & Guido Tabellini. (2012). The Clan and the City: Sustaining Cooperation in China and Europe. Working Papers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.igi.igierp.445
  • B. d’Hombres, L. Rocco, M. Suhrcke, & M. McKee. (2010). Does social capital determine health? Evidence from eight transition countries. Health Economics, (1), 56. https://doi.org/10.1002/hec.1445
  • Bisin, A., & Verdier, T. (2001). The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences. Journal of Economic Theory, (2), 298. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.jetheo.v97y2001i2p298.319
  • Castañeda Dower, P., & Markevich, A. (2014). A history of resistance to privatization in Russia. Journal of Comparative Economics, (4), 855. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.jcecon.v42y2014i4p855.873
  • Chapman, H. A., Kim, D. A., Susskind, J. M., & Anderson, A. K. (2009). In Bad Taste: Evidence for the Oral Origins of Moral Disgust. Science, 323(5918), 1222–1225. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1165565
  • Cultural differences in ultimatum game experiments: Evidence from a meta-analysis. (2004). Experimental Economics, 7, 171–188. https://doi.org/10.1023/b:exec.0000026978.14316.74
  • Delhey, J., Newton, K., & Welzel, C. (2011). How General Is Trust in “Most People”? Solving the Radius of Trust Problem. American Sociological Review, 76(5), 786–807. https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122411420817
  • Di Tella, R., Galiani, S., & Schargrodsky, E. (2007). The Formation of Beliefs: Evidence from the Allocation of Land Titles to Squatters. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 122(1), 209–241. https://doi.org/10.1162/qjec.122.1.209
  • Durlauf, S. N., & Fafchamps, M. (2005). Social Capital. Handbook of Economic Growth, 1639. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.h.eee.grochp.1.26
  • Edward Miguel, Sebastián M. Saiegh, & Shanker Satyanath. (2008). National Cultures and Soccer Violence. NBER Working Papers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.nbr.nberwo.13968
  • Felix Roth. (2009). Does Too Much Trust Hamper Economic Growth? Kyklos, (1), 103. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6435.2009.00424.x
  • Fernández, R., Fogli, A., & Olivetti, C. (2004). Mothers and Sons: Preference Formation and Female Labor Force Dynamics. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 119(4), 1249–1299. https://doi.org/10.1162/0033553042476224
  • Greif, A. (1994). Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies. Journal of Political Economy, (5), 912. https://doi.org/10.1086/261959
  • Guido Tabellini. (2010). Culture and Institutions: Economic Development in the Regions of Europe. Journal of the European Economic Association, (4), 677. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1542-4774.2010.tb00537.x
  • Henrich, J. (2000). Does Culture Matter in Economic Behavior? Ultimatum Game Bargaining Among the Machiguenga of the Peruvian Amazon. American Economic Review, 90(4), 973–979. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.90.4.973
  • John F. Helliwell, & Robert D. Putnam. (2007). Education and Social Capital. Eastern Economic Journal, (1), 1. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eej.eeconj.v33y2007i1p1.19
  • John Helliwell, & Haifang Huang. (2011). Well-Being and Trust in the Workplace. Journal of Happiness Studies, (5), 747. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-010-9225-7
  • Kennedy, B. P., Kawachi, I., & Brainerd, E. (1998). The role of social capital in the Russian mortality crisis. World Development, (11), 2029. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.wdevel.v26y1998i11p2029.2043
  • Knack, S. (2003). Groups, Growth and Trust: Cross-Country Evidence on the Olson and Putnam Hypotheses. Public Choice, (3–4), 341. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.kap.pubcho.v117y2003i3.4p341.55
  • Lankina, T. V., Libman, A., & Obydenkova, A. (2016). Appropriation and subversion: pre-communist literacy, communist party saturation, and post-communist democratic outcomes. LSE Research Online Documents on Economics. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.ehl.lserod.63833
  • Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza, & Luigi Zingales. (2004). The Role of Social Capital in Financial Development. American Economic Review, (3), 526. https://doi.org/10.1257/0002828041464498
  • Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza, & Luigi Zingales. (2008). Alfred Marshall Lecture Social Capital as Good Culture. Journal of the European Economic Association, (2–3), 295. https://doi.org/10.1111/(ISSN)1542-4774/issues
  • Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza, & Luigi Zingales. (2010). Civic Capital as the Missing Link. NBER Working Papers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.nbr.nberwo.15845
  • Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza, & Luigi Zingales. (2016). Long-Term Persistence. Journal of the European Economic Association, (6), 1401. https://doi.org/10.1111/jeea.12177
  • Michalopoulos, S., & Papaioannou, E. (2014). National Institutions and Subnational Development in Africa*. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 129(1), 151–213. https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjt029
  • Nathan Nunn. (2012). Culture and the Historical Process. Economic History of Developing Regions, (S1), 108. https://doi.org/10.1080/20780389.2012.664864
  • Philippe Aghion, Yann Algan, & Pierre Cahuc. (2011). Civil Society And The State: The Interplay Between Cooperation And Minimum Wage Regulation. Journal of the European Economic Association, (1), 3. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1542-4774.2010.01004.x
  • Risk, Cooperation and the Economic origins of social Trust: an empirical Investigation. (2010). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.2667C276
  • Rose-Ackerman, S. (2001). Trust and Honesty in Post-Socialist Societies. Kyklos, 54(2/3), 415–443. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6435.00161
  • Rose, R. (2000). How much does social capital add to individual health?A survey study of Russians. Social Science & Medicine, (9), 1421. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.socmed.v51y2000i9p1421.1435
  • Rothstein, B., & Eek, D. (2006). Political Corruption and Social Trust: An Experimental Approach. Conference Papers —— American Political Science Association, 1–42. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=poh&AN=26944245
  • Sascha O. Becker, & Ludger Woessmann. (2009). Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, (2), 531. https://doi.org/10.1162/qjec.2009.124.2.531
  • Staffan Kumlin, & Bo Rothstein. (n.d.). [Forthcoming in Comparative Political Studies] Making and Breaking Social Capital: The Impact of Welfare State Institutions. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.5DBCD923
  • Stulz, R. M., & Williamson, R. (2003). Culture, openness, and finance. Journal of Financial Economics, (3), 313. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.eee.jfinec.v70y2003i3p313.349
  • Tommaso Nannicini, Guido Tabellini, Andrea Stella, & Ugo Troiano. (2010). Social Capital and Political Accountability. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.3A028731
  • Zak, P. J., & Knack, S. (2001). Trust and Growth. Economic Journal, (470), 295. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.a.ecj.econjl.v111y2001i470p295.321