, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 267-291

Trusting and Joining? An Empirical Test of the Reciprocal Nature of Social Capital

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Abstract

This article tests a key hypothesis of the social capital literature: voluntary memberships and generalized trust reproduce one another. Panel data from the Michigan Socialization Studies from 1965 to 1982 are used to test the contemporaneous and lagged effects of interpersonal trust on joining groups and the contemporaneous and lagged effects of joining groups on interpersonal trust. We find no evidence supporting the hypothesis that interpersonal trust encourages group memberships and only limited evidence suggesting that belonging to groups makes individuals more trusting.