Social and spatial interactions in the accumulation of civic and human capital

A program funded by the MIUR (Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca Scientifica) under a FIRB 2012 grant


Social behavior, attitudes and norms are the output of a long lasting process of people co-existence and sharing of similar environmental features within groups and society. Social capital, both in terms of civicness and generalized trust, is hence produced over a very long time period and as such it is often assumed to be dependent on history (Acemoglu and Jackson, 2011; Guiso et al., 2008).

Putnam (1993) has in fact argued that the spatial distribution of social capital in Italian cities in early Nineties was the result of institutional history of those places. This first argument has found strong empirical evidence in a series of articles considering European regions (Tabellini, 2010) and Italian cities (Percoco, 2012). If the stock of social capital is dependent on history and if it is highly persistent across time, then the comprehension of which events or persistent features characterizing places generating it is of crucial importance for understanding the geography of trust.

In this research we will hence study the historical foundations of trust and social capital with specific reference to inequality, education and the spread of knowledge in Italian cities.


National coordinator: Giorgio Fazio (Università di Palermo)

Bocconi coordinator: Marco Percoco

Other coordinators: Roberto Patuelli (Università di Bologna) and Eleonora Patacchini (Università “La Sapienza” di Roma)





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