Long-standing literature argues that social capital is closely implicated in labour market outcomes. However, this hypothesis has yet to be tested in Latin America, the most unequal region in the world. We focus on Chile, one of the most stratified countries in Latin America. This study examines the relationship between social capital and four measures of status attainment, including job prestige and employment income. We use data from the first wave of the Longitudinal Social Study of Chile (ELSOC), a representative survey of the Chilean urban population aged 18–75 years. We analyse a subsample of 1,351 individuals who are currently employed. A Bayesian model of over-dispersion with relational data is used to estimate the size of the network, a novel measure of social capital. We analyse the data set using linear and logistic regression models and a complementary path analysis, first estimating models for the entire sample, and then splitting the sample into three groups to evaluate differences within individuals’ socioeconomic background. Results indicate that contacts’ occupational prestige has a positive association with job prestige and employment income, while the size of the network increases individuals’ salaries and labour participation. We also observe that social capital flows through stratified networks which tend to favour individuals from high socioeconomic backgrounds. We discuss the need to conduct more in-depth evaluations of how better creation of social capital and its effects on status attainment could be closely linked to positions of privilege and advantage accumulation processes in highly unequal contexts.
Como citar: Contreras, D., Otero, G., Díaz, J., & Suárez, N. (2019). Inequality in social capital in Chile: Assessing the importance of network size and contacts’ occupational prestige on status attainment. Social Networks, 58, 59-77.