10
Aug
07

Are there any non-profits that focus on building social capital and institutions?

From Ronald Bailey’s interview of Kirk Hamilton in Reason: 

Reason: The economic historian Angus Madison calculates that it took 1,800 years for average incomes in Western Europe to rise from $450 per capita in the Roman Empire to $1,250 in 1820. About that time, the West somehow stumbled onto the institutions that allow people to create wealth at exponential rates. If we know what kind of institutions work to create wealth, it would seem we should try to duplicate that in poor countries if we want them to develop.

Hamilton: The only difficulty is that the institutions are local creations. They reflect a particular place and a particular history. If you think of some of the most important institutions we have in the Anglo-Saxon world-things like the beginnings of rule of law and control of the power of the elites-the roots go back to the Magna Carta. The roots of English Common Law go back even farther than that.

Some people tend to be a little bit pessimistic about our ability to impose or create institutions. If it’s true that it actually took centuries of slow, painful, incremental building to get to the point where you are, that’s not a very good message for developing countries. So we have to hope that pessimistic point of view is wrong. We do have some examples in recent history in developing countries-South Korea, India, Thailand -where some sort of crisis or impetus came and institutional change occurred very quickly and had a major impact. So it’s important not to be too pessimistic.

We have recently been putting more focus on investing in countries where there are better institutions, but it leaves us with the question of what do you do with the rest, the poor countries, the low-income countries under stress? We have to think hard about how humanitarian needs can be met, and how we start to change the institutions, how we start countries down that road, because it does seem to be a pretty fundamental part of the development story. There are no easy answers that I’ve seen.

Read the rest here: http://www.reason.com/news/show/120764.html

 My question is “Who is out there in the world building Trust?”  Are there institutions IGO’s, NGO’s that are building the societal capital that makes wealth possible?  Are they hiring?

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