Discussion Paper

Social Capital and Institutions in Rural Kenya: Is Machakos Unique?

Mar 7, 2008 | Wilfred Nyangena, Thomas Sterner

This was created in partnership with Environment for Development .


In Eastern Africa, the experience of Machakos has been heavily debated between Malthusians and the more optimistic Boserupians. Machakos was the epitome of overpopulation and resource degradation in the 1950s, but has since thrived. The Boserupians view Machakos as an illustration of how population growth can solve rather than exacerbate the vicious cycle of poverty and resource degradation. The question arises whether Machakos is unique. This study investigates the role of social capital in Machakos. Using principal component analysis, we estimate various dimensions of social capital and find significant differences between Machakos and two other Kenyan regions particularly when it comes to the formation of associations.