Well-being in Developing Countries
Edited by Jonathan Isham, Thomas Kelly and Sunder Ramaswamy
Chapter 1: Social Capital and Well-being in Developing Countries: An Introduction
Jonathan Isham, Thomas Kelly and Sunder Ramaswamy What are human investments? Can they be distinguished from consumption? Is it at all feasible to identify and measure them? What do they contribute to income? Granted that they seem amorphous compared to brick and mortar, and hard to get at compared to the investment accounts of corporations, they assuredly are not a fragment; they are rather like the contents of Pandora’s box, full of difficulties and hope. (Theodore Schultz, 1961, in his address to the American Economic Association on human capital) Forty years after the introduction of the concept of human capital in the corpus of economics, the related concept of social capital has taken hold. From an economist’s perspective, social capital – like human capital before it – is a concept with much appeal and promise, but full of definitional and operational ambiguities. The concept creates challenges and opportunities for researchers, practitioners and teachers. The chapters in this volume explore these challenges and opportunities. In assembling this volume, we asked contributors from a diverse range of academic and policy viewpoints to share new research and field experiences. Although these chapters are informed by excellent research on social capital in the developed world (for example, Putnam, 1993, 2000), the volume itself focuses on the developing world. As development and environmental economists, we feel that a volume dedicated to social capital and well-being in developing countries meets an urgent need in academic and policy quarters. The economics discipline, both scholarly and popular, continues to focus...