Gender Gaps in Social Capital: A Theoretical Interpretation of Evidence from Italy

Elisabetta Addis & Majlinda Joxhe

This study uses the Italian data from the Multiscopo surveys of 1997 and 2011 to assess differences in life-cycle accumulation of social capital by sex and age. First, the study identifies some crucial aspects regarding the definition and measurement of social capital: individual versus collective dimension, different typologies of social capital, and the fact that the literature often deals with women in social capital but seldom with gender. Second, using a regression analysis with cross-sectional data, it shows that social capital accumulation along the life cycle is different for men and women, with men accumulating more social capital at all ages, with a different peak and overall profile. The study also shows that, over fifteen years, the gap in social capital by sex narrowed. Finally, it introduces a model of social capital structure compatible with the empirical evidence and with notions of gender as defined in feminist literature.

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