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Education and social capital

John F. Helliwell and Robert D. Putnam (2007)

Key facts

Journal/Publisher
Eastern Economic Journal
Type of publication
Journal article
Elements of social cohesion
Equality/Inequality
Geographical focus
Theoretical
Main thematic areas
Political institutions & governance

Summary

Education is one of the most important predictors—usually, in fact, the most important predictor—of many forms of political and social engagement—from voting to chairing a local committee to hosting a dinner party to trusting others. Over the last half century (and more) educational levels in the United States have risen sharply. In 1960 only 41 percent of American adults had graduated from high school; in 1998 82 percent had. In 1960 only 8 percent of American adults had a college degree; in 1998 24 percent had. Yet levels of political and social participation have not risen pari passu with this dramatic increase in education, and by some accounts [Putnam, 1995a; 1995b; 2000] have even fallen. For at least two decades, political scientists have mused about this paradoxical “puzzle” [Brody, 1978].

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