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Abstract

Social capital refers to trust, norms, and social networks. One of the most important features of social capital is its claimed capacity of promoting economic well-being. Theorists have assumed that any such effects vary according to the nature of different types of social capital. Using longitudinal data from a nationally representative dataset, this study investigates the differentiated effects of individual bonding and bridging social capital on subsequent personal income and income-to-needs ratios. The analyses demonstrate that bridging capital, indicated by involvement in various voluntary organizations, has small but significant effects on future economic wellbeing. However, bonding capital, indicated by connections with kin and friends as reflected through social activities, various help interactions, and perceived emergency supports, does not show such an impact. These findings lend support to the theoretical assumption that bridging capital is more effective than bonding capital in helping people advance economically. The findings have useful implications for community practice and the design of social programs.

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