Singing and Socializing: Applying Contemporary and Historical Data of Choirs As Proxy for Social Capital and Its Beneficial Impact on Wealth.

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Peter GRAEFF, Institute of Social Sciences, Christian-Albrechts University Kiel, Kiel, Germany
Robert NEUMANN, Technische Universit├Ąt Dresden, Germany
Saskia FUCHS, University of Kiel, Germany
In a lot of recent studies, social capital has turned out as a stable predictor of a nations´ or a regions´ wealth. One major argument is that bridging social capital brings together different people and alleviates economic transactions. Bridging social capital has a positive outward-oriented impact on strangers. Societies with more bridging social capital groups produce more favorable economic and societal outcomes.

In this study, I attempt to generalize the evidence from modern social capital researchers about bridging social capital to historical times. The number of choirs and members in German regions are applied as proxy for bridging social capital groups. This approach brings in some comparability problems which will be explicitly addressed in the analysis. In the recent 200 years, German regions and choir structures have changed. Since a stable unit of analysis is required, only those choirs and regions enter the analysis which are comparable across time. Despite this drawback, there is some evidence that German historical regions with a higher amount of bridging social capital are wealthier.

This result adds to the findings of the beneficial impact of bridging social capital groups in modern societies. It suggests that social capital has historical roots. It also suggests that modern societies are still driven by the same positive forces as societies before. Since the data must be considered as rather weak, these results are tentative only and could be approved by qualitative historical studies.