economic benefits of civic engagement

Does civic engagement (or you can call it “democratic participation,” or “stronger civil society”) help communities economically? I don’t think there is a large literature on that question, at least with explicit reference to the United States. Of course, wealthier communities tend to be more engaged, but that could be because income and other assets make engagement easier. It is trickier to detect a causal arrow that points in the opposite direction. However, based on the sources listed below, I would make the following hypothesis: the quality–not the quantity–of civic engagement is related to whether communities can withstand economic crises and make difficult collective decisions that help them to recover.

If I am missing research or plausible hypotheses, I would love to know.

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.