Bridging versus Bonding Social Capital and the Management of Common Pool Resources

Kathy Baylis, Yazhen Gong and Shun Wang


Social capital facilitates community governance of common pool resources (CPRs), but not all social capital is alike. We argue that bonding social capital can improve CPRs management, while the effect of bridging social capital is mixed, depending on household poverty level and resource quality. We test these predictions using primary data from Yunnan Province in China on firewood collection on communal lands. We find that both bonding and bridging social capital decrease firewood extraction, but they erode each other’s effect. Further, bridging social capital decreases firewood collection mainly for those near subsistence levels, or when forest quality is high. (JEL C31, O13)

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