Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



This research project was carried out with three principle objectives. First, I provide a primer investigation of what social capital means and examine its possible relevance in the discipline of economics and I highlight some of the numerous conceptual debates surrounding the theory. Secondly, I shed light on the historical progression and time line for the implications of social capital. That is, where we were in the past, where we are at the current time and where we (as economists) are possibly heading with this into the future. Lastly, I highlight some of the major challenges in applying an empirical methodology to social capital, without having to carry out any new empirical research work — an intensive and oftentimes extensive and time consuming undertaking — which is not likely to add much to this project. This report is a primer on social capital and its links to economics and development policy. The attempt is to simply and effectively isolate issues of past debate and the current major successes and failures in the attempt to integrate social capital into meaningful policy. More importantly, this report explores possible answers to the question: Does social capital have a contribution to make in the current efforts at formulating economic policies to address poverty?