The (negative) effects of inequality on Social Capital

Yilong Xu, Ginevra Marandola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Inequality is perhaps one of the most challenging issues of our time. Empirical literature, using observational data, indicates that higher inequality is associated with lower social capital. Oftentimes, however, the causal effects of inequality are difficult to establish based on survey and empirical observations. To this end, we review a large body of experimental literature and assess the causal effects of inequality on experimental proxies for social capital. We find compelling evidence that inequality undermines trust, discourages cooperation, and encourages unethical behaviors. The overall effect on generosity is, however, less clear.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1562-1588
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Economic Surveys
Issue number5
Early online dateApr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • experiment
  • fairness
  • inequality
  • social capital


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