Public Choice

, Volume 117, Issue 3–4, pp 341–355 | Cite as

Groups, Growth and Trust: Cross-Country Evidence on the Olson and Putnam Hypotheses

  • Stephen Knack


Olson (1982) and Putnam (1993) providesharply conflicting perspectives on theimpact of private associations on economicwell-being and social conflict. Olson(1982) emphasized their propensity to actas special interest groups that lobby forpreferential policies, imposingdisproportionate costs on the rest ofsociety. Putnam (1993) viewed membershipsin horizontal associations as a source ofgeneralized trust and social ties conduciveto governmental efficiency and economicperformance. Using cross-country data,this paper investigates the impact ofassociational memberships on generalizedtrust and economic performance, findinglittle support for Olson's view of theimpact of groups, and only mixed supportfor the Putnam perspective.


Special Interest Economic Performance Public Finance Interest Group Social Conflict 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Knack
    • 1
  1. 1.The World BankWashington, DCU.S.A.

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