Research on the institutional foundations of economic development is sharply divided between those who emphasize rule-bound systems of exchange (‘society’), and those who stress the importance of informal or voluntary bonds between individuals or small groups (‘community’). This paper reports an exploratory effort to operationalize the concepts of community and society and test how they impact different types of institutions, across fifty-eight countries. The results are encouraging and suggest several avenues for more refined research. We find that both community and society are important determinants across all institutional domains, and are in many cases mutually reinforcing.
Keywords: economic growth, institutions, social capital
Jel Code: O40, O43, R11