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Social capital, urban settings and demographic behaviour in Central America, Colombia and Mexico

Luis Rosero-Bixby, Universidad de Costa Rica
Andrea Collado, Universidad de Costa Rica
Mitchel Seligson, Vanderbilt University

Although Social Capital has become an influential concept in the social sciences, little is know of its relationship to demographic behavior. Based on data from eight Latin American countries, this paper studies two dimensions of social capital—(1) community participation and (2) trust in neighbors— and their relation with urbanization, fertility, out-migration, and crime. It aims to determinine whether social capital explains some of the differential demographic behavior of urban populations. Our data show that social capital clearly declines with urbanization, although the urban-poor show a bit higher community participation. There is a clear gradient of increased crime and reduced social capital related to urbanization. The relationship between social capital and fertility and migration is less clear and often restricted to certain sub-populations. The urban-poor do not exhibit demographic behavior significantly different than the expected given its compositional and spatial characteristics, and social capital does not help to explain their demography.

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Presented in Session 31: Urban population dynamics