Social Capital, Violence and Public Intervention: The Case of Cali

Apr 2007
This study attempts to quantify the impact of public interventions designed simultaneously to foster crime prevention and the formation of community-wide social capital. The relationship between social capital and violence has been rarely modeled in the literature and, when so, it has been found not significant. The study finds otherwise, on the basis of simultaneous econometric models with data from Colombia. Interpersonal trust is the single most important determinant to reduce victimization, while victimization levels cut back interpersonal trust and increasingly so only after some threshold is surpassed. Perceptions in the community of an effective public presence both reduce victimization and increase interpersonal trust, but the magnitude of these effects is rather small. Other public interventions (civic campaigns and improving the performance of public institutions) in crime-ridden communities also have a positive impact on both victimization and interpersonal trust levels.