The Economic Returns of Immigrants’ Bonding and Bridging Social Capital: The Case of the Netherlands

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Abstract

This paper aims at explaining to what extent social capital can help immigrants in the Netherlands make headway on the labor market. Two forms of social capital are identified. Bonding refers to a dense network with thick trust and is measured as the strength of family ties and trust in the family. Bridging implies a crosscutting network with thin trust and is measured as inter-ethnic contacts and outward orientation. It is examined to what extent bonding and bridging for immigrants in the Netherlands can be associated with a higher likelihood of employment and higher income. Results show that (1) bridging networks are positively associated with both employment and income; (2) bonding networks do not affect economic outcomes; and (3) levels of trust (neither thick nor thin) cannot explain economic outcomes.

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