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How Social Capital Shapes Citizen Willingness to Co-Invest in Public Services: The Case of Flood Control



Why are citizens in some communities more willing to co‐invest in public services than citizens in other communities? Citizen co‐investment has become an important policy tool for governments to finance public services, yet little research has theorized and empirically examined the impacts of community contexts on citizens' willingness to invest their personal resources in public services. As social capital is often viewed as an important determinant of citizen behaviours, we propose two competing hypotheses explaining the relationship between social capital and citizen co‐investment: the facilitation effect hypothesis and the inhibition effect hypothesis. Based on three data sources, our statistical analyses consistently show that citizens living in counties with more social capital are less willing to co‐invest in local flood control. This finding provides empirical evidence to support the inhibition effect hypothesis. Key implications of our research and suggestions for future research are discussed in the conclusion.