NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Bridging vs. Bonding Social Capital and the Management of Common Pool Resources

Kathy Baylis, Yazhen Gong, Shun Wang

NBER Working Paper No. 19195
Issued in July 2013
NBER Program(s):   DEV   EEE

Social capital can facilitate community governance, but not all social capital is alike. We distinguish bonding social capital (within a village) from bridging social capital (between villages), and we compare their effects on the management of a common pool resource. We develop a theoretical model and show that bonding social capital can improve common pool resource management, while the effect of bridging social capital is mixed. We test these findings using primary data from Yunnan, China on social capital and firewood collection on communal lands. We find that bonding social capital decreases the consumption of the common pool resource, and bridging social capital erodes the effect of bonding. Bridging social capital also decreases the use of the common pool resource by villagers who are near subsistence levels of consumption. Our results are robust to alternative measures of social capital and to treating social capital as endogenous.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19195

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