Social capital can be defined as the institutions and networks of relationships between people, complemented by the attitudes, norms and values that underlie them. Based on a large volume of newly collected data from ten countries, this is the first book to provide a rigorous empirical testing of the link between social capital and economic development. It documents the pervasive role of social capital in accelerating poverty alleviation and rural development, facilitating the provision of goods and services, and easing political transition and recovery from civil conflicts.