Working Paper No. 967

Social Capital and the Family: Evidence that Strong Family Ties Cultivate Civic Virtues

Published: June 4, 2013Pages: 45Keywords: Family ties; Civic; Family values; Cultural transmission; Altruism; Social capitalJEL-codes: A13; H26; P16; Z13
Published version

Social Capital and the Family: Evidence that Strong Family Ties Cultivate Civic Virtues Martin Ljunge


I establish a positive relationship between family ties and civic virtues, as captured by disapproval of tax and benefit cheating, corruption, and a range of other dimensions of exploiting others for personal gain. I find that family ties are a complement to social capital, using within country evidence from 83 nations and data on second generation immigrants in 29 countries with ancestry in 85 nations. Strong families cultivate universalist values and produce more civic and altruistic individuals.

The results provide a constructive role for families in promoting family values, which challenge an ‘amoral familism.’ Moreover, strong families are complementary with more developed and democratic institutions. The results provide a constructive role for families in promoting family values that support successful societies with a high state and fiscal capacity.

Martin Ljunge

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Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union in a Changing World Order

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This book explores how the European Union responds to the ongoing challenges to the liberal international order. These challenges arise both within the EU itself and beyond its borders, and put into question the values of free trade and liberal democracy. 

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