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Abstract

While a substantial amount of research has been devoted to showing what social capital does, research explaining social capital itself lags behind. The literature has a long tradition of examining the effect of social capital on local economic growth and development. In this paper we examine whether local economic development can explain the variation in social capital across various geographical clusters in the state of Georgia. We begin by devising a measurement tool, a Human Development Index (HDI), to measure community development. Our social capital measure includes associational memberships, voluntary activities, and philanthropy obtained from the Georgia Social Capital Survey. The findings show that even after accounting for various demographic and economic characteristics, the HDI explains the variation in a number of social capital levels (especially those measured by associational involvement) across various geographical clusters in the state of Georgia.

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